Little did Alice Ruhland know she was going to have her own big moment as her brother and fair board president, Terry Reuter, began the Hall of Fame inductee introduction.
Just moments before, she had asked him if he had his speech ready.
"He told me yes, it was going to be short and sweet. I told him that was good because it's really hot out there. Little did I know it was about me," Ruhland said with a laugh.
On stage, Reuter started his remarks, saying the honoree had been active in Plymouth County 4-H since 1960.
"As a member of the America Bells 4-H Cub, she held the offices of president, vice president, secretary and historian," he said.
Ruhland remembers thinking it was really great that someone from her old club was going to be receiving the award.
"In 1967 she earned the God, Home and Country Award," Reuter continued.
Ruhland wondered who in her club had received that award besides her.
"In August 1968, she was crowned the Plymouth County Fair Queen and went on to represent Plymouth County at the Iowa State Fair, wearing a pink daisy lace formal designed and sewn by her mother," Reuter said, with a small catch in his voice.
That's when it hit Ruhland.
"When they said '1968,' I turned to Julie (Beitelspacher) and said, 'that's me,'" Ruhland said. "They didn't think I was paying attention, but I was. I turned my head, I couldn't believe it."
As Ruhland listened, Reuter continued with his speech.
"In 1992, she was called back to be part of the Fair Queen Competition, becoming a member of the Fair Queen Committee. She coordinates all of the activities for the fair queen, with the help of two other committee members. She enters the queen and her court in parades and events around the area and works with getting our local queen entered at the State Fair Contest," Reuter said.
One of the highlight of her fair queen work was seeing the Plymouth County Fair Queen, Caine Westergard, become the Iowa State Fair Queen in 2009, Reuter continued.
He noted Ruhland encourages and supports the queen and her court to live their lives with integrity and good morals as they represent the Plymouth County Fair and serve as role models to younger 4-H'ers.
Reuter also noted Ruhland's work in the community.
She has been employed at First National Bank in Le Mars for 30 plus years, now in the capacity of assistant vice president and administrative assistant to the CEO.
Her community activities include the American Heart Association Board and the Ice Cream Days Parade Committee.
Ruhland is an active member of St. Joseph Catholic Church, Neptune, serving as a eucharistic minister and member of its finance council.
"She married her high school sweetheart and classmate, Glenn Ruhland, and lives in rural Le Mars," Reuter said.
The Ruhlands have four children, Chad and Gina Ruhland, of Le Mars, Brett and Mindy Ruhland, of Le Mars, Alicia and Brian Plueger, of Spencer and Rachelle Ruhland, of Ankeny, and five grandchildren.
"We hope she will continue to serve on the Fair Queen Committee for many years to come. Please join me in honoring our Plymouth County Fair 'Hall of Fame' inductee for 2011, Alice Ruhland," Reuter said.
As the crowd applauded and cheered, Ruhland made her way to center stage, where Reuter presented her with the plaque and a hug.
Ruhland managed a few words, thanking the fair board for the honor and praising the Plymouth County Fair for what it offers everyone.
Then it was time to go offstage and get her fair queen candidates ready for their time on stage.
"I was just totally, totally shocked," Ruhland said later.
4-H was -- and still is-- a big part of Ruhland's life, she said.
"I know it took me a whole year to work for the God, Home and Country Award," Ruhland said. "It was more of a project. They did not give it out to everybody. There was certain criteria you had to meet."
She was crowned fair queen the summer before her senior year of high school. She remembers that lace formal, too.
"My mom was very talented. She would take several patterns and put them together," Ruhland recalled.
Ruhland grew up with seven brothers and two sisters.
"Pretty much everybody was involved in 4-H. That was one thing we lived for," she said.
She points to her brother, Reuter, now fair board president.
"I look at Terry and his involvement in the fair," Ruhland said. "It was really neat when he could hand me that plaque."
Ruhland works with Julie Beitelspacher and Rochelle Niehus on the fair queen committee.
"I have a wonderful committee. I can't thank them enough. Many hands make the job go smoother. It's a team effort," Ruhland said.
Ruhland also tries to attend the state fair queen crowning each year.
"Last year we attended when Caine (Westergard) handed off her crown to the next queen. It's always fun to go down and see all the queens around the fairgrounds, representing their fairs," Ruhland said.
The Plymouth County fair queen committee is always encouraging to all the candidates, she said.
"We tell the candidates they're all queens, they were nominated by their club to represent them, and every one of them could have been a queen," Ruhland said.
She added she loves the fair.
"Each year it gets bigger and better," she said.
She especially likes the wide variety of projects 4-H members are able to participate in and bring to the fair.
"It's just great to have all these 4-H'ers involved. It does help them in the future," Ruhland said. "4-H makes them a well-rounded person and gives them more self-confidence."
When not at work at First National Bank or one of several community projects, Ruhland said she enjoys being with her children, grandchildren and husband.
"We always enjoy a week away at our cabin. It's a little getaway and nice to be together," Ruhland said.
Many family members attended the presentation last week, with some staying over from a family reunion earlier that week.
Ruhland found out later that her brother had told most of the family members about the award. They all kept the secret.
"I really want to thank the fair board for nominating me and presenting me with this prestigious award. It's just awesome," Ruhland said.