Elida Moore wants to take every opportunity life gives.
The Cambria native hopes to be crowned Miss California Mid-State Fair on Tuesday, July 16. It’s something she has always wanted to try, but hadn’t “had the guts,” she said. Now that the Cal Poly senior is 22, this is her last chance to enter the pageant for women ages 16 to 22.
“It’s one of those things where you have to go out and try things,” the agricultural sciences student said, “because you don’t know if you are going to enjoy it unless you try.”
As cancer survivor, Moore knows not to take once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for granted.
Moore is the first Cambria-area candidate in 24 years, since Shawna Foster and Gina Cullen both tried unsuccessfully to take the tiara in 1989.
When the pageant started in 1969, the winner became “Maid of San Luis Obispo County,” according to pageant director Patti Lucas. Each entrant represented a city in the county. The name changed to Miss California Mid-State Fair about 20 years ago.
Family friends and neighbors Peer and Rhonda Johnson influenced Moore’s decision to participate this year.
“She is just an extremely well-rounded individual,” Peer Johnson said. “The pageant isn’t something she would normally do, but I thought she’d do well.”
Moore was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in February 2008 when she was an 18-year-old high school senior. The cancer was diagnosed after she found a lump on her throat where she had had a cyst removed years before.
She got a little “shell-shocked” when the doctors told her, she said, but she had braced for the diagnosis by talking about the situation and, between her family, friends and horses, she had a great support system. She was never in a situation where the diagnosis was scary, Moore said.
“Freaking out about it and looking for pity does not fix it,” Moore said. Moore had her thyroid removed and still takes a thyroid hormone.
For a time, she also had to take a dose of radioactive iodine.
“Unfortunately, I did not glow in the dark,” Moore said. She thought, somewhat seriously, that she was going to be like Green Lantern, and was disappointed when the glowing did not happen.
But she was radioactive enough she had to be isolated for three days in her grandparents’ front bedroom, a room with its own bathroom. Her father would take her grandparents’ intercom phone and talk to her while standing outside and looking through the window, “like I was in prison,” Moore said.
She’s currently in her fourth year of remission.
Moore has lived in Cambria all her life. Her mother, Sarah Moore, teaches at Cambria Grammar School and her father, Ron Moore, is a finish carpenter. She’s worked at the Cambria Animal Medical Center for four years, where she answers the phone, administers vaccines and assists the veterinarian anyway she can.
Moore left behind a legacy when she graduated from Coast Union High School in 2008. During her senior year, Moore was vice president of Coast Union’s FFA when the club decided they wanted to get animals back on campus. They sent out donation letters, prompting Hearst Ranch to donate money for cattle pens and RothCo Feed Service of Paso Robles to build them. The club also got an equine cover donated.
She was a freshman cheerleader when her brother was a senior on the football team. Moore was the “little cheerleader flying in the air” at those games, she said. She also played volleyball, basketball, was involved with choir, band and was stage manager for a school play. She took Advanced Placement classes and said she was very academic minded.
Moore became interested in agriculture through her love of animals. Ever since she was young, she frequently begged her parents for a horse. She started helping out at ranches at 13 and showing livestock at the fair at 16.
She showed heifers for three years. Her first heifer was a very large Brangus heifer. The animal was “fairly low to the bottom and the judge did not like that her feet were not trimmed and she did not have the best top line,” Moore said. Her second heifer, Talluluah Belle, placed third in the class and Moore placed in advanced showmanship that year. Her last heifer placed third as well.
Part of the profits from the sale of Talluluah Belle went to the French Hospital Medical Center, where Moore received her treatment for her cancer, she said.
Though not showing livestock this year, Moore isn’t entirely leaving that part of the fair behind.
Each candidate in the fair pageant promotes a platform of her choosing. Moore’s platform is “Showmanship 101.” She hopes to get more people involved in junior livestock showing and to provide younger community members the opportunity to get hands-on experience showing a goat, lamb or rabbit.
Her favorite part of the fair has always been going to see the animals, but Moore remembers when she didn’t understand how the judge placed the animals. She noticed other people in the area had that problem as well.
Part of her platform involves having display boards explaining reasons why the judge ranks animals in each class the way they do.
Moore currently has two horses, two dogs, a cat and a rabbit. The two horses are Whisper, an Icelandic pony with “Tina Turner hair,” and Tucker, a brown and white paint horse. Her two dogs are called Dakota and Bismarck.
She hopes to get a goat soon, she said, as part of her senior project at Cal Poly, where she will be creating a high school level curriculum about using goats for fire brush management. Moore said this method is better for the environment and more sustainable than mechanical mowing.
Her love of animals is strong enough, Moore said, that “I feel sorry for whoever dates me for a long period of time, ’cause he’ll be like sixth on the list … All my animals come first.”
If Moore is crowned, she will be able to implement her platform the following fair. She will also assist with all the duties required that the board sees fit to promote the fair, she said.
“It’s more of running off my platform and giving back to the community for me more than anything,” Moore said.
Candidates for the crown
The Miss California Mid-State Fair pageant starts at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 16, at the Frontier Stage, the day before the fair’s 12-day run begins. Admission and parking is free. Participants are judged on poise, appearance, fitness, speaking, talent and overall impression. Miss California Mid-State Fair and two princesses serve as year-round ambassadors to the fair, appearing in parades, at ribbon-cuttings, meetings and other public events. The winner will also implement her platform at next year’s fair and receive a $500 cash prize. First runnerup gets $300 and second runnerup gets $200. Contestants all receive jackets and other items.
Victoria Barron, 16, Paso Robles High School senior. Platform: “Health is the Way of Life.”
Sabrina Dunn, 18, UC Davis student, graduate of Templeton High School. Platform: “Project Surf Camp, Shredding the Mystery.”
Sarah Remington Groves, 19, Cuesta College student, graduate of Templeton High School. Platform: “Beautiful Souls.”
Kelsey Koehler, 22, Brandman University student, graduate of Independence High School in Paso Robles. Platform: “The 8-Second Ride.”
Elida Moore, 22, Cal Poly student, graduate of Coast Union High School. Platform: “Showmanship 101.”
Michelle Tarango, 18, UC Davis student, graduate of Atascadero High School. Platform: “Still in Progress.”
(Note: The original version of this list included seven candidates; one candidate has withdrawn from the competition.)