Farm Queens preview: Great American Country takes pageant girls from stage to stable

Everything you need to know about the premise of Great American Country’s new Farm Queens is handily summed up by beauty queen turned pageant coach Juliann Sheldon in Sunday’s premiere episode: “If you can survive almost getting peed on by a cow, you can survive pageant week.”

She should know.

Sheldon, Miss Pennsylvania of 2011, is a veteran of longtime pageant coach (and 30-year Miss Pennsylvania pageant director) Chet Welch’s tiaras-meets-tractors beauty-queen boot camp, held on the 102-acre rural cattle farm he shares with his life partner Bob.

That’s right, those of you long weary of Toddlers & Tiaras frivolity — Farm Queens’ eight aspiring national title winners will test their crown-capturing mettle by milking cows, shearing sheep, delivering barnyard babies and more. Because Welch believes that, while any coach can teach these ladies how to score the perfect spray tan or snow-white smile, mastering daily farm duties affords them the real hallmarks of a lifelong winner, even after their pageant days are over. Qualities like commitment, stamina, overcoming fear, working with a team and handling unexpected setbacks with style.

Or as much style as you can muster when a cow is relieving itself mere inches from your face.

farm queens great america
Gentleman farmer and longtime pageant guru Chet Welch of Great American Country’s ‘Farm Queens. Photo: Richard Vaggs

In Sunday’s series premiere, Welch — who was just 18 when the directors of his hometown beauty pageant asked him to take over the proceedings (“They thought if I could show cattle and sheep, I could show pageant queens,” he says) — and his assistants Sheldon and 2013 Miss Pennsylvania Annie Rosselini greet their lovely wards with spanking new pairs of hot pink rubber farm boots. And they’re going to need those babies right away.

After the girls — some city slickers, some country cuties, all ranging in age from 18-23 — switch from the glam gowns in which they arrived to their best Daisy-Mae-at-the-mall outfits, they are led to their first challenge. Which, like the episode, is aptly called “8 Maids-A-Milking.”

Welch plans to test the perfectly made-up new farmhands’ focus and stick-to-itiveness by seeing who can coax the most milk from dubious jersey cow Sweet Pea. While some take to the task with gusto, the dancers in the group begin fearing for their limbs when Sweet Pea — growing weary of the festivities — reveals herself to be a skilled bucket kicker and foot-stamper. And, yes, utterly unconcerned about answering the call of nature whenever nature calls.

For those of you worried that Farm Queens is merely a platform for pampered pageant princesses to simper and shriek about icky mud and stinky critters, rest assured that even the most citified ladies (that’d be you for sure, Melessie) seem game for whatever Welch throws at them, even if it does cost them a nail or a perfect hairdo. And their charming attempts at blending their two worlds frequently make for laugh-out-loud moments.

And one last thing — for you longtime Survivor fans wondering why Chet Welch might look familiar, he was also a contestant on the reality staple’s 2008 Micronesia season.

Chet’s Top Ten Tips To Go From Farm To Crown!

  • Expect the Unexpected — Be ready to take on whatever the pageant throws at you!
  • Listen — Take every verbal cue when preparing to take the stage, and listen carefully to the pageant director’s instructions.
  • Strut Your Stuff — Like a peacock with its plumes on parade, maximize your natural talents to capture your crown.
  • Be a Bull, Not a Bully — Charge up your personality and winning smile, but be yourself. Pushy pageant girls who play to what they think the judges want to see risk coming off as bigheaded.
  • Be Confident — When animals sense fear, they will kick, bite or run — judges will just count you out. Remember: No one knows you made a mistake unless you tell them. Don’t highlight a misstep with a frown or nervous laugh.
  • Don’t Be Afraid To Fail — Working on a farm is dirty business. Everyone gets a little mud on their boots before they can shine.
  • Flex Some Muscle — Physical fitness is a deciding factor in pageant success — and a must on the farm. Judges can tell if you’ll be unable to support the title-holders role and strenuous event schedule.
  • Keep Calm — You are never going to feel totally at ease competing for a goal you have set for yourself. Just take a deep breath and remember all the things you enjoy about pageant life.
  • Don’t Be a Solo Act — It takes a village to fun a farm and it takes a team to bring you to that crowning achievement. Embrace your supporters and pageant workers.
  • Be On Time — Routine is critical to an animal’s overall health and mental fitness. Don’t keep your team, your coach or your pageant directors waiting or you could be waiting even longer for your next title.

Farm Queens premieres Sunday, September 14 at 6/5CT on Great American Country.

About Lori Acken 1195 Articles
Lori just hasn't been the same since "thirtysomething" and "Northern Exposure" went off the air.