Disbelieving Johnson walks off - sort of - with royalty crown

The court of the 2017 4-H Royalty contest includes (from left) second runner-up Karmen Koch; royalty champion Larissa Johnson; and first runner-up Josi Barscz. The contest was held Friday, July 14, at the iAB financial bank Heritage Hall on the Huntington County Fairgrounds.
The court of the 2017 4-H Royalty contest includes (from left) second runner-up Karmen Koch; royalty champion Larissa Johnson; and first runner-up Josi Barscz. The contest was held Friday, July 14, at the iAB financial bank Heritage Hall on the Huntington County Fairgrounds. Photo by Rebecca Sandlin

For many, having to walk up steps then take a few modeling turns in an evening gown while sporting a pair of crutches may not be the definition of “lucky” – but, for Larissa Johnson, it not only made her stand out from the crowd, it certainly didn’t hurt her in winning the 2017 Huntington County 4-H Royalty Contest.

During the evening, it was evident that Johnson, a member of the Barnyard Brigade 4-H Club, was having the time of her life among the 13 contestants vying for the crown and the opportunity to represent 4-H during the 87th annual Huntington County 4-H Fair. She says she was stunned when her name was called.

“I was actually in disbelief. I just came here to have fun and meet new girls and make new friendships,” she says. “I was really surprised when I did win.”

Johnson tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her right knee playing basketball during a recent scrimmage, landing “wrong,” she says. She will be a senior at Huntington North High School next fall and is on the basketball team.

Yet, even using crutches to hobble her way around the stage, the smile never left her face. She was clearly relaxed and decided to have fun anyway, despite what could have been perceived as an obstacle to winning the royalty championship.

Her humor rose to the surface – and garnered applause from the audience – when she was asked the impromptu question, “What is the one thing you would like to improve at the Huntington County 4-H Fair?”

“One thing I would like to improve at the Huntington 4-H Fair would be lower the milkshake prices,” she quipped. “Because one, I could have more milkshakes and two, it would fit in my budget a little better.”

Johnson is the daughter of the late Doug and Lori Johnson, and the ward of her uncle and aunt, Joe and Kathy Stephan. Her 4-H projects include steers, starter calves and chickens. After high school she plans to attend college to major in agribusiness or criminal justice.

As the royalty champ, Johnson will receive a $500 scholarship, a tiara and the opportunity to compete in the Indiana State Fair Queen Pageant Jan. 5 through 7, 2018.

The first runner-up in the pageant was awarded to Josi Barscz. She is the daughter of Ben and Jennifer Barscz. She is a nine-year member of 4-H and a member of the Mighty Clovers 4-H Club.

Karmen Koch was tapped as the second runner-up. Koch is the daughter of John and Joy Koch. She is a nine-year member of 4-H and a member of the Neighborhood Workers 4-H Club.

Because of 4-H rules, the 12 females and one male all competed for one title this year. Additional contestants were Jordan Neal, Tyler Stephan, Stephanie Dryer, Kennidy Lauer, Jordyn Poulson, Anna Doctor, Madison Wohlford, Alex Underwood, Rachel Cave and Emma Melcher.