Miss Salinas Valley Fair
As 2024 Miss Salinas Valley Fair, Natalia Merritt will reign over the 80th Annual Salinas Valley Fair in King City next week. (Courtesy of SVF)

KING CITY — King City High School junior Natalia Merritt has embarked upon her newfound fame as the 2024 Miss Salinas Valley Fair.

The 17-year-old’s first official appearance took place April 20 during the annual Salinas Valley Fair Kick-Off held inside the Orradre Building, where she helped show off items for the live auction — prior to the power outage that ended the event early.

Merritt, daughter of Jeff and Cory Merritt of King City, was crowned Miss Salinas Valley Fair following two days of competition, April 4-5, at the Salinas Valley Fairgrounds in King City. She competed against fellow contestant Victoria Sanchez in select categories, including horsemanship, scholastic, poise and appearance and personality, to claim the crown.

“Both Natalia and Victoria ran a great competition and should be proud of their efforts,” the Fair posted on social media.

As the title winner, Merritt received a $2,000 scholarship, a sterling silver belt buckle and other prizes. In addition to her many duties as Miss Salinas Valley Fair, she will represent the Fair at local and regional events, including the California Rodeo Salinas in July.

She will also reign over the 80th Annual Salinas Valley Fair in King City next week.

“Natalia is very excited for this year’s Salinas Valley Fair and having the opportunity to represent the Salinas Valley Fair in the upcoming year,” stated the Fair in a news release.

Miss Salinas Valley Fair
Miss Salinas Valley Fair Natalia Merritt shows off items for the Fair Kick-Off live auction on April 20. (Courtesy of SVF)

Merritt is a Monterey County native and has attended local schools, where she excels in academics. She has achieved her Greenhand Degree and her Chapter Farmer Degree, and now has her sights set on completing her State Farmer Degree.

Merritt enjoys working with wood and has completed sprinkler projects and a toolbox project through her agricultural classes at King City High School. She currently holds the office of vice president of the Interact Club, where she has been a member for the past three years.  

In addition, athletics is nothing new to Merritt, as she has been a member of the King City Mustangs’ junior varsity girls’ basketball team for the past three years and “has a great love for the sport,” according to the Fair.

Merritt’s love of animals is showcased with her horse, Scarlett, and her two dogs, Sophie and Bailey. Her passion for horses and riding coupled with hard work earned her the title of 2013 Intermediate Champion of the Carmel Valley Western Series.

“She and Scarlett are a team to be reckoned with in the Western Please Showmanship arena,” stated the Fair. “Scarlett is always up for a good parade.”

After high school, Merritt plans to attend either Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo or University of California, Davis, where she will major in animal science to become a large animal veterinarian.  

While representing the 2024 Salinas Valley Fair, Merritt’s goal is to “help educate the public on an event that has been so near and dear to her heart,” according to the Fair.

The 80th Annual Salinas Valley Fair will run May 16-19 at the fairgrounds in King City. The family-friendly event attracts more than 35,000 guests and 1,000 livestock exhibitors from four counties.

For information on how to exhibit livestock, art, photography, school projects, crafts, baked goods and more, contact the Salinas Valley Fair at 831-385-3243 or visit SalinasValleyFair.com.

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Ryan Cronk is the managing editor for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for South Monterey County and the surrounding communities.


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