Fairest of the Fair 1974 – Sylvia Stewart Horn

Like many throughout the more than six decades of the competition’s history, 1974 Fairest of the Fair Winner Sylvia Stewart Horn entered the pageant as a way of pleasing her immediate family.

Looking back on the night she was crowned, Sylvia recalled, ”I entered the pageant because my mother and granny wanted me to and I wanted to wear my May Day (celebration in Baxter) dress again. I stumbled over the ruffle of my full dress earlier in the competition, but was so happy when they called my name as winner.” She continued, “It was wonderful seeing my mom, dad, granny, and papa jump all the way over a tall fence in excitement when I won. Their happiness was unmatched.”

While it’s true the Fairest of the Fair is, by design, a competitive event, a theme you will notice in this edition is the fondness past winners have for the connection, confidence, and freedom to serve being part of the pageant provided. 

Sylvia herself relished in not only the way her victory was received within the community, but in the opportunities to give back winning provided. She was eager to relay the joy of being introduced to the many diverse people living around the Upper Cumberland after being crowned Fairest of the Fair.

“The best part of winning was receiving all the calls and letters and getting to do so many activities in the area like the Sparta Fair, meeting TTU football players, and much more.” She elaborated, “I represented Putnam County by giving out ribbons, riding in parades, and serving as an ambassador at the Tennessee Fairest of Fairs Pageant. I loved going to other events with my dress, gown, and sash.” 

Another recurring motif you’ll notice throughout this edition is the gratitude past winners have for Fairest of the Fair. As story after story highlights, the pageant has changed lives, altered careers, and instilled a sense of belonging since 1958; Sylvia Stewart Horn is no exception. 

Winning gave Sylvia the courage to chart her own professional path, one that included shaping minds as a school teacher for more than 45 years. 

Reflecting on her special night in 1974 and the years that followed, Sylvia remarked, “Looking back, winning enriched my life and allowed me to help and encourage others. The day I won was one of the happiest days of my life.”

– by Andrew Buckner, photo by Cris Stroud



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