Fairest of the Fair 1988 – Teri York Fitzgerald

1988 was a year that changed Teri York Fitzgerald’s life.

A junior at TTU, she entered Fairest of the Fair, unaware of how impactful this choice would prove to be. 

“My boyfriend at the time was asked to be an escort for the Putnam County Fair pageant,” York recalled. “I thought the pageant sounded like fun, so I decided to enter myself. I had no idea how much that one decision would affect my life.” 

After being crowned the winner in Putnam County, Teri was given the chance to compete for Tennessee’s Fairest of Fairs Pageant. While nervous, she entered the competition prepared, excited, and determined.

“I physically and mentally prepared for months leading up to the pageant. I carefully selected my interview outfit and evening gown to match my personality. I knew when I arrived that I had done all that I could to prepare for the pageant and it was now time to just have fun,” she reflected. “I had so many family members, friends, and Putnam County supporters there to cheer me on at the Vanderbilt Plaza as I competed against 47 other county queens. It truly was one of the greatest nights of my life when I was crowned the Tennessee State Fairest of the Fairs!”

To Teri, the competitions weren’t solely about winning, but also making those around her proud, and representing the area well. 

A lifelong lover of the Putnam County Fair, she saw her victory as an opportunity to give back and immerse herself in the lives of those who called the area home.

“As happy as I was to win, I think it made me the happiest to make my parents so proud. My dad probably told every single person that he met in the next year about me winning the state title.” York continued, “After winning, Governor Ned McWherter presented me with Tennessee’s Outstanding Achievement Award, and state Senator Tommy Burks appointed me as an honorary member of his staff. Representative Dwight Henry recognized me and the Putnam County Commission wrote a resolution naming me an Outstanding Citizen. I also made lots of appearances at county fairs across the state. It was one of the most exciting and interesting years of my life.”

Winning Tennessee Fairest of the Fairs is no easy feat, but Teri met the challenge, rising above the talented field of entrants, by representing her community with class, poise, and focus. Rather than gloat, she looks back on her victories, both local and statewide, grateful for relationships as much as crowns. 

“One of the greatest benefits of being Fairest of the Fair and State Fairest of the Fair is meeting so many exceptional people in Putnam County. Joy Holloway McCaleb Poteet and Christie Holford Barton are two special people who helped me prepare for the state pageant and we have remained friends to this day.”

She concluded, “The fair board members have always been so good to me. Some of the finest people you could ever hope to meet.” 

Through friendships and victories, Teri York Fitzgerald has embodied the best of what it means to be Fairest of the Fair since 1988.

– by Andrew Buckner, photo by Cris Stroud




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