BND Magazine

August 3, 2014

Pigtail tradition: Girls go to great lengths to compete at the fair

Katrina Korsmeyer is more likely to wear a ponytail or braids, but last Sunday afternoon she was all about pigtails.

The 10-year-old fifth-grader from Grantfork waited beneath a shady pavilion for the results of the Little Miss Pigtail Contest, sponsored by the Madison County Pork Producers. She was one of 32 girls, ages 2 to 10, who competed for trophies and plaques at the fair in Highland.

Each of Katrina's long brown pigtails measured 28 1/4 inches.

What does she like about long hair?

"Nothing," she said.

Katrina planned to get a haircut soon after the contest.

"Probably this week. I want it to be this short," she said grabbing the pigtail about halfway up.

"She's thinking about doing Locks of Love," said her dad, Ken, who lives with a lot of longhairs, including his wife, Janice.

Katrina's sisters aren't far behind. Alissa, 7, had 18 1/4-inch tails; Makayla, 5, measured 15 3/4.

"The youngest said she wants it to get like Rapunzel," said grandma Marlene Korsmeyer, sitting at a picnic table with her granddaughters.

The girls live on a cattle farm that also grows corn, beans and wheat. They head to Grandma's a mile away when they want to help feed the chickens and one duck. At the fair, they like petting sheep and cows and taking part in the pedal tractor pull.

Katrina, last year's overall champ, hoped to win in her age category.

But competition was stiff --mostly straight and sometimes wavy.

"Her hair has never been cut," said John Ritz, of daughter Hailey, 7. "Not even the dead ends."

Hailey's wavy brown pigtails -- all 26 1/2 inches of them -- trailed down her back, not stopping till they were past her hot pink T-shirt.

Long hair grows in the family.

"She has an older sister, Roseanna Jaeger, who is 19. She won her division at 5."Angela Michael, of Highland, watched judges measure 6-year-old daughter Hannah Noelle Michael's blond tails.

"We have been growing this since she was born," said Angela. "I can't believe how long her hair is (21 1/2 inches). It's really curly when we don't have to do this to it."

Hannah and Carley-Anne Michael, 4, who had darker 18 1/2-inch pigtails, like to pretend they are Elsa and Anna from Disney's "Frozen."

"They call each other sisters," said Angela, noting that Carley is Hannah's niece. "They're constantly doing things together."

There's something neither girl likes: tangles.

"Hannah's hair is long and thin and tangles easily," said Angela. "Before she goes swimming, I wet her hair with VO5. I put a massive amount of VO5 in."

A pigtail tradition

Jon and Amanda Mersinger, of Troy, entered daughters Karlee Switzer, 4, and Kenzee Mersinger, 20 months, for the first time.

"Am I going to win a trophy?" asked Karlee, dressed in a ruffled denim skirt and boots, her blond pigtails tied with hot pink bows.

"You have to see which pigtails are the longest.

"We come up here every year," said Jon. "They like the animals."

"I like the piggies," said Karlee, "because they have curly tails."

Girl after girl stepped up to see if she measured up.

Judges Lynn Grotefendt and Bob Gvillo pulled tails out straight and lined up a tape measure alongside. Bob's wife Daphne recorded the results. She can tell you who won every year since 1993.

"I keep the records for fun," she said.

Longest ever? 33 inches in 2006. Those pigtails belonged to Emily Wiegand, then 8, of Alhambra.

Lynn, the measurer, had short hair as a kid.

"I didn't have long hair till I was married," she said.

No pigtails for her.

"Dad was a dairy farmer. I wasn't involved with pigs till I married my pig farmer husband, Dave."

Little Miss Pigtail Contest Winners:

2- to 4-year-olds: Sophia Otto, 4, of St. Peters, Mo. with 21-inch pigtails

5- to 7-year-olds: Hannah Michael, 6, of Highland, 21 1/2 inches

8- to 10-year-olds: Lilly Garrison, 8, of Worden, 24 inches, and Katrina Korsmeyer, 10, of Highland, 28 1/4 inches (had won overall the year before, but qualified in her age category)

Champion: Hailey Ritz, 7, of Pierron, 26 1/2 inches.

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