Farmer’s Daughter Gains Wisdom from Floods
SISTERSVILLE – A farmer’s daughter, who is from one of the more flood ravaged counties of the state, said she is honored to be crowned as queen of the West Virginia Oil and Gas Festival.
“I am truly honored to be able to represent the oil and gas industry in West Virginia and all the wonderful men and women who work and support it,” said Autumn Carter, 18, of Frankford in Greenbrier County. “I am looking forward to helping honor the WV Oil and Gas Man of the Year and to participate in all the activities such as the wrench throwing competition and the grand parade.”
Greenbrier County was among the hardest hit by the floods in late June. Carter said because her family’s farm was spared since it is located on higher ground, she was able to volunteer her time helping others affected by the flood. She said one her best friends not only lost his home to flood, but his father was killed.
“I was able to volunteer in both White Sulphur Spring and Rainelle throughout the past two weeks and the devastation is heartbreaking,” she said. “While in one house, the water line was over my head, at least 6 feet high. Seeing families that had lost everything, without anywhere to live, is truly overwhelming.”
Carter praised the strength of West Virginians’ resolve to get through this crisis, rebuild their lives.
“The communities have proven their strength, banding together to help each other get through this catastrophe,” she said.
Though many other states such as Virginia and Maryland have donated money and resources to flood relief, Carter is concerned about the future.
“The thing that worries me most is that the donations will stop too soon,” Carter said. “People outside the area are already forgetting about what has happened and the truth is that these families are going to be struggling for months while trying to rebuild from nothing.”
Carter said the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) only helps with the tear down and cleanup of houses as well as loans for rebuilding.
“Many people I have talked to say that their insurance is only paying off the house they lived in, not giving them any money to start over with,” she said. “Between the houses and businesses that have been taken by the flood, to the roads and land that have been disrupted, this will take years to repair and I can only hope this truly is the ‘thousand-year flood.’ These communities have been through enough hurt for a thousand years.”
After the floods, Carter’s grasped hold of one of life’s most valuable lessons.
“Mainly with the flooding, what has come to my mind is to expect the unexpected and live everyday to the best of your ability because you never know when your world will be completely turned upside down,” she said.
No ordinary queen, Carter does a lot of work around the family farm.
“With farming, I believe it teaches you the importance of not only hard work and dedication, but also how to record keep,” she said. “Living on a farm has taught me that you have to work for everything you have and that the most important things in life don’t come easy.”
Carter is down-to-earth royalty who is the “best son” her stepfather never had.
“Well, the question would be what do I not do,” she said. “I drive tractors while brush hogging and putting up hay. I help vaccinate cattle. I shear sheep. I clean out stalls and barns. I ride and show horses. I have shown sheep and horses both at the State Fair of West Virginia. I even work on the machinery when it breaks down. My stepfather likes to say that I’m the best son he never had.”
Carter said she competed in the WV Oil and Gas Pageant because of what the festival offers the region.
“I love seeing different areas of our state and exploring all the different fairs and festivals throughout the state,” she said. “The WV Oil and Gas Festival brings to light the importance of all the men and women working in the industry and how well it supports our economy. I also love the fact that the festival still appreciates the arts, having the band competition in the parade.”
The pageant’s queen receives an $1,800 scholarship. A 2015 graduate of Greenbrier East High School, Carter is attending Marshall University where she is pursuing a degree as a pharmacist. She hopes to conduct research needed for the treatment of pancreatic cancer.
“The WV Oil and Gas Festival also gives a terrific scholarship, which greatly helps as I am beginning pharmacy school at Marshall University this fall,” Carter said. “I would like to thank all the sponsors of this pageant and fair for my wonderful prize package.”
Carter said she got interested in competing in pageants after a close friend, Brittany Glover, was crowned as the 2015 Paw Paw Festival Queen.
“Brittany talked me into competing in a pageant and I’ve been hooked ever since,” Carter said. “I love being able to meet so many different people while competing, from the directors and board members, to the girls I compete with. I have been able to make so many friends. I have also been able to greatly improve on my interview skills. I have also been able to improve my public speaking skills.”
Presently, Carter does not reign supreme anywhere else except as queen of the WV Oil and Gas Festival. As a West Virginia Association of Fairs and Festivals (WVAFF) queen, those young ladies cannot hold another WVAFF title, therefore she is not queen anywhere else. But she is no stranger to being a queen.
“I have held other queen titles,” she said. “In 2014, I was the WV Sweetheart Festival Queen. In 2015, I was the Lewis County Fair Queen. I am very excited to compete with close to 80 girls at the WVAFF pageant this year.”
Carter said the Sistersville’s community spirit really shines.
“Sistersville’s warmth and caring of the community has really shown through,” she said. “I had never been to Sistersville before yesterday, but the board members have already made me feel at home. I look forward to learning all about the community and its people.”