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Fair ambassadors happy to lend a hand

If you need directions to an event at the Spokane County Interstate Fair this year, just ask an ambassador, a “fair ambassador” that is.

Fair ambassadors serve a little-known but significant purpose. Four students were selected from 10 finalists, following a daylong selection process. This year’s winners are: Chelsea Ellis, a graduate of Central Valley High School who attends Washington State University; Alysa Norton, a graduate of East Valley High School who attends Spokane Community College; Alicia Knecht, a graduate from The Oaks Academy; and Brianna Broadwater, a senior at Lewis and Clark High School.

According to fair coordinator Jessie McLaughlin, “We consider them an extension of our public relations department. They do all sorts of tasks through the fair, including, but certainly not limited to: handing out ribbons, introducing acts on stage, distributing daily newsletters to the vendors and greeting guests at the gates.”

Ambassador alum Emily Snow of Medical Lake described how she made the most of her assignment. “We went around and did things behind the scenes at the fair. I did the logrolling in the lumberjack show, even stayed on 3 seconds. I got to hold a 5-foot python, played with piglets, caught kids falling off in the mutton busting and drove in the antique tractor show.”

The day started before the fair opened and ended at closing time. “Even with the long day,” she said, “it was really fun. I won a $500 scholarship, which paid for a whole quarter of books, lab fees et cetera. It was really helpful.” She encouraged future ambassadors. “The experiences help you step out of your comfort zone. Just go out there and enjoy it, make the most it. It’s a great opportunity.” Norton, a 2011 ambassador, looks forward to the experience. “It’s a fantastic opportunity to meet new people. I plan to be energetic and have fun with it,” she said. If an applicant isn’t selected, he or she is encouraged to keep trying from one year to the next. McLaughlin shared a memory of one out-of-the-ordinary case, “One year Celeste Wagner tried out and did not make it. She came back the next year with her brother, Justin Wagner, this time. They both applied and got it. It was our first brother-sister duo ever to be ambassadors the same year. That made it very special.”

So, after you wipe out in the logrolling contest this year, an energetic young woman with an ambassador badge may offer to help and then demonstrate how it’s done. Or possibly, just encourage you to try again.