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A royal victory: Yamboree queen takes home grand champion prize for her fine swine

By Christina Lane
Oct. 18, 2012 at 10 p.m.


GILMER - With a crown on her head, boots on her feet and a pig by her side, Paige Linder's dream came true Thursday.

Yamboree Queen Linder won grand champion at the festival's swine show after taking first place in each of two classes of pigs.

"I'm on cloud nine," Linder said. "This is all from blessings and luck."

The 75th East Texas Yamboree was in full swing Thursday starting with the opening of the bandstand on the courthouse square in Gilmer and continuing with livestock shows, exhibits, a carnival, a luncheon and a dance.

"The special thing about Yamboree is it's not just an event that brings our community together for three days in October, but it is an event that has brought us together for 75 years," Linder said. "It could be said that the Yamboree is truly the tie that binds."

Before she was the Yamboree queen, Linder had been showing pigs in the annual festival for seven years.

"Before we got involved in the coronation, this was Yamboree to us," said her mother, Blane Linder.

Paige Linder's dream this year was to be like the women whom she had always admired - "the women who were ladies but who had boots on."

She showed two pigs in the swine competition - both shown while wearing her queen's crown. Linder's pig weighing in at 263 pounds took first place in class nine (for pigs weighing 262 to 269 pounds) of the competition. Her second pig, weighing in at 272 pounds, also took first place in class 10 of the competition. The top pigs in each class competed for the title of grand champion with Linder's taking home the prized belt buckle.

"I'm so excited," she said.

Gilmer native Jeff Rash said one of the things that makes the Yamboree special is the "glimmering hope that you see in these young people."

He said the Yamboree ignites a spirit of cooperation among all of Upshur County, bringing together schools, cities and the county for a common cause.

Retired Judge Charlie Baird, who was the keynote speaker at the all-service club luncheon, said the Yamboree contributes scholarships to many children each year and provides for the community. The Yamboree has provided the exhibit building and the park named after the festival.

"It all boils down to one common theme - service to one another and service to the community," Baird said.

The 75th East Texas Yamboree continues through Saturday.

"My Yamboree wish for each of you is to go and enjoy the Yamboree to its fullest," Linder told the audience at the luncheon, "And to create more of those special memories that can not only be shared next year but for the next 75 years as well."

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