Jori Todd straightens her grand prize winning dress at the 2022 Newton County Fair.

NEOSHO, Mo. — For Seneca High School Senior, Jori Todd, this year’s Newton County Fair was a grand success. Todd was crowned grand champion in the sewing category for her creation: A red, Lucille Ball inspired, evening gown. But, her sewing skills wasn’t the only thing Todd was crowned for. This year, she was nominated and chosen to be the Queen of the Newton County Fair, something Todd has wanted since she was young.

“I was actually very excited because there’s Newton County Little Miss, there’s Newton County Junior Princess, there’s Newton County Princess and then there’s Newton County Fair Queen. I have won all of them, and I was trying to win Queen for the past three years and I finally won it this year and I thought it was the most exciting thing ever,” said Todd.

Todd also takes on the role of “sewing queen” this year, after spending nearly 80 hours to complete her award winning red dress. At the age of 17, sewing now comes natural to Todd after starting with a needle and thread when she was very young.

“Whenever I was really little my aunt Rhonda, who’s also the sewing leader for our 4-H Club, they were doing what is called a Sew-A-Thon and we were sewing aprons for elderly people in the nursing home. I really like to help people so that was something that sparked my interest and it just went on from there,” said Todd.

SLIDESHOW: View Photos of Jori Todd and Her Award-Winning Dress

At the age of six, Jori Todd discovered that sewing wasn’t a chore, but rather a passion. So, with help from her aunt Rhonda, Todd learned the art of sewing, both by hand and on a machine. For most of her sewing projects, Todd says the inspiration comes from Pinterest, however when it came to creating the red three-piece dress for this year’s Newton County Fair, Todd’s inspiration came from both Hollywood and family.

“This dress is actually inspired by Lucille Ball. My great grandma and I used to watch movies staring Lucille Ball all the time. My great-grandma’s favorite color is red, so this was kind of like based off of her,” said Todd.

Now that the evening gown creation won her the grand champion prize for sewing, Todd says she plans to wear the dress to her senior prom next spring.

As for 2023, Todd says she’s not sure what her sewing submission will be. However, one thing she is sure of is the joy and excitement that the next Newton County Fair will bring to her and her family.

“This fair actually means a lot to me. I look forward to it every year. My family and I have been going to this fair since I was two. My mom showed here, my aunt, my uncle, my dad, just everybody I know has all shown here and I just love to see how it grows better and bigger each year,” said Todd.