GREENVILLE — The 2016 Annie Oakley Festival started with a shooting competition, where Katie Hurd, 17, of Greenville, won the title of 2016 Miss Annie Oakley.
On this eve of the 2017 Annie Oakley Festival, Hurd shared her year and described it as a really cool experience.
“A lot of the older generation really appreciates it,” Hurd said. “It is sometimes hard to try get it through the minds of the younger generation to understand what she meant to this community.”
Some of Hurd’s duties as Miss Annie Oakley, included her attendance at many events, such as parades, festivals, shows and judging some local pageants. She also met Congressman Warren Davidson (Eighth District). Hurd said she has always acted like a confidant person, but realized she had to rise to the occasion once she won.
“When you win, you have to learn how to communicate better with people,” she said. “You can’t be shy if people come up to you. You can’t sit there and look down and play with your phone or your hands. You have to communicate with a strong voice, be confident about what you have to say and give confident responses to questions.”
“Put her in a room with strangers and within an hour she knows everyone,” Hurd’s father Dean said of Katie. “She is good at meeting and talking to people.”
In addition to the Annie Oakley costume, the win is based on the girls’ shooting skills. Hurd was no stranger to shooting before the contest. She enjoys archery, hand guns and BB guns, and spent a lot of time shooting at her grandparents’ house. Her favorite to shoot are the rifles, she said.
“Aside from what people would normally say about it being self defense, it is actually fun,” Hurd said. “And if you are new to it, picking up something new is fun because you never know if you are going to be good at it or not, and it opens your mind to other things. Shooting competitively is nerve – racking, but once you win, you get this sudden burst of confidence. The nerves crack on everyone. If you can be confident out there with an ‘I’m going to win attitude’, you will scare your opponents.”
Dennis Soward, of Xenia, has been in charge of the Annie Oakley Shooting Contest for more than 15 years. He has always been involved with guns, he said. A key to good shooting is breath control.
“Some of the girls have their gun barrels going in circles before they shoot,” he said. “You have to claim the shot. Some of them are really good shots. The contest brings them out of their shell. I’ve seen that in a lot of them over the years.”
The 2017 Miss Annie Oakley Shooting Contest to name the new winner will begin Wednesday at 6 p.m., with the final competition to be held Thursday at 6 p.m., at York Woods, U.S. Route 127 and Reed Road.