Fairest of the Fair 1958 – Pat Hall Coomer
Pat Hall Coomer is the second oldest living Fairest of the Fair winner, though you wouldn’t know from the stunning photo donning the cover of this edition.
She is elegant, kind, thoughtful, bright, and open.
But, since 1958, when Pat won Fairest of the Fair, a lot has changed.
Wars have begun and ended, presidents have come and gone, technologies changed, and the world evolved.
But even though more than six decades have passed between her victory and the time you read this, Pat can clearly remember the way it felt to be crowned Fairest of the Fair.
She recalled, “It was such a morale booster to win and to think that me, ‘Pat Hall,’ could be the Fairest of the Fair in Cookeville. It was just so uplifting.” Pat continued, “I didn’t have a dress or know anything about modeling. My family didn’t have a lot of money. We weren’t paupers but we didn’t have excess money. So, the Algood Jaycees offered to sponsor me, I entered and ultimately ended up winning. It shocked me.”
While her victory came as a surprise, Pat relished participating in the duties that accompanied being crowned Fairest of the Fair.
She gushed, “I was expected to be at the fair each evening. The queen and her court presented ribbons to the winners of the other contests and events in the grandstands. Being able to be before the public in such a way, and feel that your presence was appreciated, was so special.”
During the first years of the pageant, winners like Pat weren’t crowned with the gorgeous tiaras seen today. Instead, early Fairest of the Fair champions were awarded coronets of a more perishable variety.
“My crown, and the crown of the 1957 queen (Mary Edith Adkins), were made from cardboard.” Pat continued, “Hers had the fancy round stones, mine was just the three points on the crown.”
Though the material of her diadem was semi-permanent, the enduring impact of winning Fairest of the Fair has proven an inextinguishable flame throughout the life of Pat Hall Coomer.
She went on to become a wife, mother, public servant, and entrepreneur.
Pat has honored Fairest of the Fair through a fierce combination of passion, versatility, faith, and grace.
Reflecting on the night of her victory, she clearly recognizes the pivotal role Fairest of the Fair played in altering the course of her life.
Pat mused, “When I look back, I think, ‘Wow.’ I really would like to see a timeline of my journey from then until now and see how winning Fairest of the Fair may have given me the confidence to be more out front.” She finished, “Winning boosted me and said, ‘Hey, Pat, you can do anything you want to do if you’re willing to put forth the effort.”
Pat Hall Coomer represents everything great about Fairest of the Fair, with a spirit even more beautiful than the cover of this magazine. Thanks for letting us tell your story, Pat.
– by Andrew Buckner, photo by Cris Stroud