DES MOINES, Iowa– The State Fair is an annual tradition for many Iowa families.
“Ever since I can remember I’ve only missed one fair and that was because I had a surgery,” said Addie Burkett of Winterset.
Whether the 17-year-old is hosting 4-H events or competing for them, “I go to work,” said Burkett.
Burkett had racked up quite the collection of State Fair ribbons. She said, “I had a medal shelf and all of my fair medals and plaques and belt buckles and trophies that I’ve won. I don’t know if those have been recovered. I haven’t seen half of my belongings.”
In March, a deadly tornado sent those mementos into the wind along with much of her family home in Winterset. “I did have little scrapes on my cheeks and arms from glass and corn stalks cutting me,” said Burkett.
She took cover from an EF-4 tornado with 170-mile-per-hour winds in a utility room and walked out with a new look on life. Burkett said, “There was a solid second that I thoroughly thought I was gonna die there in the basement with my family.”
The recovery continues five months later for many in the Winterset community. “I’m reminded that there has been a tragedy in my past. I struggle with things other people can do easily like go home, sit in bed. I couldn’t do that for a long time,” Burkett said.
In the face of that adversity, Addie, an incoming senior at Winterset High School was standing tall in the Iowa State Fair Parade as Madison County’s Fair Queen. “I think it shows that anything is possible. A lot of perseverance and a lot of grit considering something that big,” said Burkett.
Just days into the fair and multiple blue ribbons are back in Addie’s possession including one for a mock political party platform binder. “It really taught me a lot more about perseverance,” Burkett said.
The 4-H building is filled with a year’s full of hard work across the state. The ribbons may not hold monetary value, but for Addie, regaining some of them is part of the healing process. A process that could come full circle as Addie earned a blue ribbon in the 4-H communications contest, speaking on trauma responses. She said, “The normalcy of the fair and being able to help out and participate is a big thing considering I’m very routine based.”
It’s a trauma she and many others in Warren, Polk, and Madison counties will need time to recover from one day at a time, one fun-filled event at a time, and one step at a time.
Burkett said, “I lost my house. My childhood home where I grew up but I’m able to bounce back and do greater things through that.”
Burkett also was given the Personality Plus award in the Iowa State Fair Queen Pageant.