To be Queen for a year

Fair Queen Kiley Langley recollects her time since the crowning achievement


As a humble Kiley Langley waited for the announcement of the Muscatine Fair Queen, she wondered which one of the five other girls in the contest would be crowned.

Little did she know, the Wilton farm girl would be the 2023 Muscatine County Fair Queen.

“I was totally surprised,” she said. “I had never done a pageant before, but I thought, ‘well, I’ll get to meet some new girls.’”

A twin to sister Karli, now a nursing student at St. Ambrose College in Davenport, Langley admits her sister has a lot more talent (dance) but said one of the reasons the 2013 Wilton High school graduate decided to take on the pageant was the fact there was no talent portion. 

“I have no talent,” she admitted, pointing out her best work may be in showing sheep at fair events, something she’s always enjoyed.

Living just north of Wilton on a family Angus farm with her parents, Melony and Barry, Kiley has a goal of becoming a farm animal veterinarian. 

That was one of the reasons she decided to attend Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls, noting they have a great pre-requisite program to get into a vet school. 

Langley hopes to attend Iowa State University in Ames, but knows how difficult it can be to get into a vet program and may have to explore other options.

Although she did wrestle as well for ECC this past season, Langley said her grappling career will end so she can concentrate on her studies. She said wrestling in college was different than competing at the prep level. Calling it a “different style” and a lot more stressful. 

Her year as fair queen will come to an end this July when Kiley hands the crown to the next queen and makes her farewell speech while also showing sheep for the Wilton-Durant FFA. 

Encouraged by her mom to enter the county pageant, Kiley said she didn’t have any interest in participating initially, but thought it would be good to go through an interview process as well. 

“It was crazy,” she said of winning the crown. “I didn’t expect it at all.”

Fair work begins

But she was put to work right away handing out trophies and plaques at various shows throughout the week while posing for pictures with everyone from servicemen to the fair princess. “It’s been a great experience,” she said. “But I’m excited to hand the experience to someone else.”

She felt the highlight of the fair was watching the always-popular pee-wee livestock competitions and awarding winners, along with celebrating successes with friends she had made over the years in various shows.

Another highlight was getting involved in the fair’s donkey riding contest, where she finished runner-up overall after winning her heat. “That was so much fun,” she said.

Since, she’s helped with the annual fair fundraiser, Weekend for the Fair, raising money through live and silent auctions, while also attending the annual Christmas “Trees for a Cause” at the fairgrounds activity center. She may also appear in next year’s West Liberty Muscatine County Fair Parade, which kicks off the fair the previous weekend. She’ll also have to give a short speech about her experience at the 2024 county fair pageant.

State runner-up

In August came the Iowa State Fair pageant and Kiley says that truly changed her life, having to room for five days with three other girls who won their county pageant.

The blue-eyed, 5-10 blonde was surprised again when she placed as the state runner-up to Kalayna Durr of Mt. Pleasant, who represented Henry County.

“There were so many amazing girls,” Kiley said of the 103-county queen competition, still dumbfounded as to how she finished second.

Langley said she became very close to her three roommates and said they continue to be good friends. “We’re talking on the phone weekly and sometimes daily,” she said, noting these were girls she “would have never met otherwise.”

She plans to still show sheep this summer and says she’d like to eventually have her own sheep farm, but is focused now on getting into vet school, including working this summer for Wilton’s veterinary clinic, Sunset View Hospital. She was first encouraged to show sheep by her dad as well as Wilton-Durant FFA Advisor Gary Drums.

She’s had experience pulling a baby lamb from its mother’s womb and just thinks, “Animals are cool.”

Kiley said one of the greatest things she learned was the fact “you really can do what you want to do.”

“Don’t be afraid to try new things. Don’t worry about getting out of your comfort zone. Challenge yourself,” she said, complimenting her parents for encouraging her to participate. 

“Looking back, this was some of the most fun I’ve ever had in my entire life,” she said.

fair, queen