Rosalie Bontrager loves people, and it shows at the fair

    The Elkhart County 4-H Fair’s 2014 Senior Queen brings her love of people to her new job as fair royalty. 

    Posted on July 25, 2014 at 3:53 p.m.

    Rosalie Bontrager heard from judges that she was chosen as the Elkhart County 4-H Fair’s 2014 Senior Queen because she’s radiant. 

    And when she traveled around the fairgrounds wearing her sash and crown, she was often stopped by fairgoers who wanted to take a picture and tell Rosalie she’s beautiful. 

    But the queen herself says all the attention mystifies her.

    “It must be coming from within, because I don’t feel like some stunning beauty queen,” she said, laughing.

    It’s easy to see, though, why people are drawn to Rosalie.

    She smiles at everyone, beaming a positive attitude that’s hard to miss. 

    She has plenty of experience meeting new people and winning their hearts, experience gained from the 15 years she and her husband Wilbur spent managing the Das Dutchman Essenhaus Inn and Conference Center in her hometown of Middlebury. 

    Rosalie still works at there four days a week, answering phones, making reservations and — her favorite task — talking with the guests. 

    “There are people who have been coming there for 25 years,” she said. “I just love it.”

    In addition to working at the inn, Rosalie’s also involved in the Elkhart County Extension Homemakers.

    In fact, she said, she only ran for senior queen this year because the Homemakers are trying to start up a program where they sponsor the Homemaker of the Year for the pageant the next year.

    Since she was Homemaker of the Year in 2013, she was nominated to run for senior queen during the 2014 fair. 

    “I never thought I would be selected,” Rosalie said. “I had it all in my head of who would be picked and it didn’t work out like that at all!”

    Then, taking a deep breath, she resumed her queen-like composure: “But, now that I have been selected as the 2014 Elkhart County 4-H Fair Senior Queen, I’m just so excited.”

    Follow reporter Lydia Sheaks on Twitter at @LydiaSheaks

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