The Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indy 500 itself hold a special place in the heart of one member of the staff of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture. Misty Livengood is the ISDA director of communications and she was also the 500 Festival Queen in 1995.
While spending time with others in Indiana agriculture last week during the Fastest Rookie of the Year lunch, she described the victory circle experience where dairy farmers play such an important role.
“It’s absolutely electrifying. It’s a sea of humanity. It’s everything good about our state and I think it’s very fitting that we have these two families coming together. When you think of it there are a lot of parallels. Race car drivers have passion, energy, and dedication to what they do and so do our Indiana farmers. So it’s fitting that those two families merge in victory circle.”
Livengood doesn’t pinpoint one favorite memory from her year as queen. It is more a collection of memories.
“Just the outreach and the involvement and seeing the adrenaline rush in Indiana, and a representation of all that’s good about the Hoosier state, and how everybody works together to put on an international event. People from other nationalities and cultures, people from all over the world get a great taste of what Indiana is all about, including our agriculture community.”
She helps each year with the queen program and sees many young ladies from rural backgrounds. The program itself is one of Indiana’s best kept secrets.
“It’s a selection process that starts in January and any young woman in college in Indiana, certainly there are criteria you will have to meet, but you will go through an interview process and they choose 33 girls to represent each of the race car drivers in the month of May. That is narrowed down to a queen and court. It is a long process that spans out over several months and there is a lot of community outreach involved, a lot of buildup around all of the 500 Festival events, and the culmination of course is the great tradition we know as the Indianapolis 500.
This year’s 500 Festival Queen is Indianapolis native and Purdue student Taylor Adams, a junior majoring in public relations and advertising. The queen receives a $2,500 scholarship. Her court consisted of Erika Tishner of Elwood and Ball State University, and Audrey Putnam of Bristol and Purdue University.[audio:http://www.hoosieragtoday.com//wp-content/uploads//2012/05/Misty-Livengood-former-500-Queen.mp3|titles=Misty Livengood former 500 Queen]