Morrison crowned Brussels Fall Fair Ambassador - Aug. 16, 2018
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Amanda Morrison has been crowned the Brussels Agricultural Society’s Fall Fair Ambassador for 2018/2019.
Morrison was one of three young women from Brussels vying for the position and was crowned by outgoing Ambassador Erin McMahon on Saturday night at the Brussels Legion. She triumphed over Taylor Dietrich-Illsley and Brittany Struthers, both of whom are her co-workers and friends.
Saturday night’s crowning was a dream come true for Morrison, she said, because she can remember wanting to be the Brussels Fall Fair Ambassador as a little girl growing up in the village.
Morrison admits that when she was very young it was the glamorous tiara that attracted her to the position, but in recent years, she viewed it as a way to better connect to the community she loves.
As Brussels Fall Fair Ambassador, Morrison said she’s so proud to be able to represent the community, which she says is a close-knit, special village.
When it came time to put her name forward for this year’s competition, it was as a result of her friends and eventual competitors encouraging her to be part of the annual tradition. Morrison said it was an easy decision to make since it’s been on her radar for years.
Last month she decided to enter the competition and immediately began preparing.
At times, she said, the three friends, who all work together at the Jam Jar Pub and Eatery in Brussels, would prepare together. In the end, however, it’s a competition, so there were times that they played their hands close to the vest as well, especially when it came to their speech topics.
With all three competitor being friends, Morrison said it had a calming influence on her. Whenever any one of the girls became overwhelmed or stressed, the other two were there to calm her down.
Morrison said that after the weeks of preparation, she woke up on Saturday morning feeling confident about her chances of bringing home the fabled tiara and sash. That was not before, however, she had to work a shift at the Jam Jar. Morrison worked in the morning before heading home and getting ready for the competition that afternoon.
She said she was confident and calm when she arrived, but soon there were butterflies in her stomach when she was chosen as the first to be interviewed by the judges.
Not only was she the first on the hot seat, but Saturday was Morrison’s first-ever interview, so she said it was a bit nervewracking, but once she finished and did a good job, she was back to feeling good about her chances.
Being surrounded by her friends and succeeding in achieving her childhood dream, however, meant that Saturday night was a great night for Morrison.
For her speech, Morrison explored the history of Brussels and how it was intertwined with agriculture. She said that the town has grown out of agriculture and vice versa.
While she says it’s not uncommon for her to experience anxiety in public speaking situations, Morrison felt comfortable on the Legion stage for her speech in front of her fellow community members. She had plenty of friends and family members in the audience which helped put her at ease.
Morrison said that her fellow competitors felt she had won the crown before it was presented, but she wasn’t so sure. Both Struthers and Dietrich-Illsley presented tough competition, she said, and she could have seen the decision going any number of ways.
However, Morrison was confident in her performance and in the end it was her head upon which McMahon placed the crown.
When her name was called, Morrison said she was overwhelmed with happiness. Not only was she happy that she’d be representing Brussels for the next 12 months, but she was also proud of herself for committing to a challenge and seeing it through all the way to victory.
She wasn’t the only one happy about the win. Morrison said that when she was announced as the winner, both of her competitors congratulated her immediately. They were happy for her, Morrison said, and they told her that they knew she could do it.
Dietrich-Illsley won the Friendship Award, which is voted on by the contestants, while Struthers was named the winner of the Personal Development Award.
As the Brussels Fall Fair Ambassador, Morrison hopes to help elevate the profile of the fair and the Brussels Agricultural Society.
She hopes to use the position to encourage other young members of the community to become more involved in events and organizations around Brussels.
This goal isn’t new to Morrison, as she’s been striving towards it for years through both 4-H and the Brussels Leo Club, which she hopes to be the president of for the coming term.
Morrison will be a Grade 12 student at F.E. Madill School in Wingham in the fall. After completing her high school education, she hopes to attend either the University of Waterloo or Wilfrid Laurier University to study psychology. She was sponsored in the competition by the Majestic Women’s Institute.
Also on Saturday night at the Legion, Emily Bieman passed her Junior Ambassador crown onto Maddy Bernard, while Little Ambassador Casey Bernard passed her title onto Kaleigh McCallum. Macie Taylor was also a participant in the Little Ambassador competition, while Bennetta Van Nes and Adelle Kerr were also part of the Junior Ambassador competition.
This weekend, 2017 Ambassador Erin McMahon will wrap up her final duties when she heads to Toronto to compete in the provincial Ambassador competition at the Canadian National Exhibition. The competition runs Aug. 17-19.