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  • Val T.

Batten gives Queen competitors the boot

Former Lady Z basketball player named Fair Queen after surgery


BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS

Sports Editor, RTC

Kim Batten loves Fulton County 4-H Fair Week.

She had participated in the dog project for years, and she remembers going down to the state fair for nine straight years.

Kim Batten

A 2021 Rochester High School grad, she wanted to give back. So she decided to enter the Fulton County 4-H Fair Queen pageant.

She won her first ever beauty pageant, and not even a bunion on her left foot that required surgery and forced her into a walking boot would keep her from winning.

Batten was asked if she needed to be talked into trying out for Fair Queen.

Just the opposite, she said. She wanted to do it herself, but some people tried to talk her out of it because she would have to do the competition in a boot.

“It was kind of like, ‘Are you sure you can handle walking across that stage and doing fair?’” Batten recalled. “And I was like, ‘Yes, I want to do it. I’ve wanted to do it every year since I was eligible, but I had dog show the same day.’ So it’s always been something I wanted to do, and I was ready to do it.”

And though her foot might have been in a boot, Batten said she had to be on her toes. Well, figuratively.

“I think beauty is a part of it, but it’s also really built around on how you interview and how you do your speeches,” Batten said. “I won best interview, so that was a big part of your score is how well you interview. So I think the beauty counts with the brains.”

Batten has already completed the maximum 10 years in 4-H.

She had shown her dog Retta for two years and her dog Taylor for seven years. Both Retta and Taylor were rat terriers. She competed in obedience, agility and showmanship. Her favorite part was showmanship, where she and her dog were judged as a team.

As far as the pageant goes, she views it as giving back to the community.

Batten said she relied on Erika Enyart and Ginger Slisher for their assistance. Enyart, a kindergarten teacher at Caston Elementary School, helped with advice. Batten also said she had great admiration for Slisher, a Caston grad who was Fair Queen in 2020 when the pandemic negated crowds.

“She gave me a lot of great pointers and helped me through with a lot of advice,” Batten said of Slisher. “It not only helped in this pageant, but it also helped in life in general.”

Batten said she started practicing for the pageant in late May when she came back home after her freshman year at IUPUI. But then again, it’s not that simple coming off bunion surgery.

Kim Batten won the Fulton County 4-H Fair Queen five weeks after bunion surgery on her left foot.

So she went to higher-heeled shoes than normal and then learned to walk in them.

“So to have that confident walk on stage is more difficult than it seems,” Batten said. “That’s where the beauty comes in. That does take skill. But I had a good three-and-a-half-inch heel. That’s my secret. To walk across that stage without any limp because I didn’t want to show.”

Batten is a former Rochester High School basketball player who played on Lady Z basketball teams that won sectional titles in 2020 and 2021. She was asked how beauty pageants are similar to basketball.

“I think they are very different but at the same time very similar in how you prepare,” Batten said. “There is practice into it. You may not be sweating every day, but you are getting that confidence built up, and you’re getting that extra practice in to make you the best you can perform at the actual event. You prepare, you walk, you practice your interview questions, you practice your onstage question, you redo your speech as many times as you can, and then you get off that one event. Compared to basketball, for example, you practice your plays, you practice your moves, all for that one game.”

Batten, 19, said she had her first bunion surgery on her right foot when she was 12. Her second surgery came on June 2, a little more than five weeks before the pageant. She called her foot issues “genetic.”

But instead of thinking of the surgery as interfering with her pageant chances, she

chalked it up to an obstacle on life’s journey.

“You kinda prepare your whole life, honestly,” Batten said. “I don’t think I would have been Queen last year at the point I was at. I think now I’m ready to be Queen just because of the experiences I learned through all my 10 years of 4-H and also my first year of college that made me into who I am today.”

Batten is attending IUPUI on a full-ride scholarship based on her community service and volunteerism. She called her freshman year a “whirlwind” going from a small town to a big city. She said she wants to be an attorney.

“I wanted to enter Fair Queen to give back to our club that grew me up and kind of raised me,” Batten said. “I’ve always loved fair week and everything that 4-H brings to the community. You always come out here and see how great this place is and just how great it makes the community feel. So I just wanted to be an ambassador and be representative of that.”


Kim Batten won the Fulton County 4-H Fair Queen Pageant on

July 9. (photo courtesy of Sarah Reynolds Photography)






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