Holly Lesko is not ready to let go of her current title.
“I’m actually very upset about it because honestly this past year has been amazing as coal queen,” she said. “I’m not ready to give it up.”
The 18-year-old, daughter of Donna and Scott Lesko of Smithfield, was crowned the 2018 Bituminous Coal Queen after years of participating in pageants.
When she was announced as a winner, Lesko started crying. She said she had been in similar competitions since middle school but becoming coal queen was her main goal.
So, for her, getting the title “was the best feeling ever,” and the year was everything she had hoped for.
“All of the events that I’ve been to and going down the coal mines, I loved doing that,” Lesko said.
Although Lesko was excited about every aspect of her reign, experiencing the coal mines had a special significance due to her family’s long history with it. Her great-grandfather, great-uncle and grandfather all worked in the mines. So glimpsing into their experience was her favorite of the past year.
“I got to ride in this car and we went into the tunnels and everything and they actually let me run the big shear machine, where it actually kicks the coal out of the wall,” she said. “It was amazing.”
Going to Harrisburg and seeing the State Capitol also made it on her list of accomplishments.
“I met so many people and being in front of the senate was absolutely amazing, I would have never expected that,” she said. “It was a beautiful building.”
One year later, Lesko said she feels how much she’s grown, thanks to all the responsibilities that came with holding the title.
“I feel like I definitely changed since I won,” she said. “I feel like I matured. Winning this has opened my eyes so much more.”
Having recently graduated from Albert Gallatin Area High School, she will be attending Point Park University in the fall to major in dance, as well as continue her modeling career.
Before that, though, she will have to pass on her crown to a new queen.
The 66th Annual Pennsylvania Bituminous Coal Show will take place Aug. 17 through 24. The Coal Queen Pageant will be Sunday, Aug. 18, at 7 p.m. at Carmichaels Area High School.
“I would honestly just tell (the next queen) how amazing this experience was and to just live it to the fullest because it will go by in an instant,” Lesko said.
For more information on the Bituminous Coal Show, visit its Facebook page @KingCoalShow or call 724-833-0538.