Queen had the year of her life
Rodeo: New Okotoks royalty to be crowned Sept. 1
By: Jenica Foster
| Posted: Wednesday, Aug 21, 2013 02:03 pm
It was a year well spent representing Okotoks.
The title of Miss Rodeo Okotoks was graciously received by a Red Deer resident last September. Since then, she has giddied her way across the Foothills, met some amazing people and even warded off persistent animal activists.
Miss Rodeo Okotoks, Erica Lee, said she learned a lot about the lively town she represented, but even more about its people.
“It’s an honour getting to represent the town,” Lee said. “It’s an amazing little town and such a community oriented place and I really got to see how the community is out and supportive.”
Lee had a busy schedule after winning the title during the 2012 Okotoks Pro Rodeo. She started her year by attending the Cochrane and Hanna rodeos. From there it was a whirlwind of activities from the Fireman’s Ball, Okotoks Agricultural Society fundraiser, golf tournaments, Oiler’s hockey games and the Calgary Stampede. She even ventured south of the border to Washington state where she visited the Omak Stampede and watched a suicide race, which is where jockeys ride horses down a steep hill into a river.
Her favourite event was Okotoks Wish Walk for the Children’s Wish Foundation because she said she liked interacting with all the children. She said many of the children asked for her autograph and in return she encouraged them to reach for their goals.
“Wish Walk was one of my favourites because there were so many people out to help contribute and they weren’t expecting that many, so to see all that community support was great,” she said.
Part of her job was to represent and promote rodeos. She said it was sometimes a challenge to do so when dealing with animal activists. It was hard to keep her composure and avoid conflict when they approached her.
“They aren’t as friendly to you,” she said. “These animals are treated like professional athletes and I had to explain that to them.”
While attending so many rodeos over the year, Lee said she experienced a family atmosphere. At the Millarville Rodeo, she said one of the competitors got hung up and everybody, including his other competitors, rushed into the arena to help him.
“Seeing these cowboys, some will walk away weekend after weekend with nothing except their friendships and something they are working towards and that’s enough for them,” Lee said. “Dreams and goals and friendships and a family and that’s enough. It’s not all about winning sometimes.”
As Lee wraps up the year, it’s time to saddle up for this year’s competition. Two contestants will compete for the title of Miss Rodeo Okotoks 2013.
Mattea Palin, from Okotoks, is running for her second year. She said she hopes to learn more about what goes into rodeos behind the scenes. Palin would also like to amp up Okotoks’ rodeo spirit because she said it’s scarce around town.
Palin started going to Future Cowboys and Cowgirls events when she was young. She then went on to high school rodeo and competed in barrel races and pole bending with the Canadian Girls Rodeo Association. She said she met her first rodeo queen at the Future Cowboys and Cowgirls finals when she was younger and it was there that her desire to represent rodeos was bred.
“I grew up in Okotoks,” Palin said. “To be able to represent Okotoks is a huge deal.”
The second contestant, Tiffany Rockburn, is from Acme. At 18 years old, she said she would like to win the title of Miss Rodeo Okotoks to keep the sport of rodeo alive and learn more about herself.
Rockburn started in 4-H in 2009 where she participated in parades, pole bending and barrel jumping. She also worked at TL Bar Ranch taking guests for horse rides and has been going to rodeos for as long as she can remember.
“You can see the passion that these cowgirls and cowboys have when they are out there,” Rockburn said. “It teaches everyone values like honour, dignity and respect.”
Miss Rodeo Okotoks is open to women aged 18 to 24 who have never been married or pregnant and live in the surrounding area. Heather Mills, director for Miss Rodeo Okotoks, said they opened the competition up to other areas to garner more competition and equal opportunities.
“It gives young girls more experience,” Mills said. “They are exposed to different things, learn self confidence and grow as an individual.”
Contestants will be judged on their presentation, personality, confidence and communication skills.
There will be three events open to the public. The first is the horsemanship competition Aug. 21 at Hebson Arena in Okotoks. It will start at 6:30 p.m. The second is a public speaking portion Aug. 26 at the Sandstone Lodge at 6:30 p.m. Lastly, people can watch the crowning ceremony on Sept. 1 at 1 p.m. during the Okotoks Pro Rodeo at Murray Arena in the Okotoks Recreation Centre.
Rodeo tickets are $20 per person or $15 standing room for adults and $10 standing room for children. For more information contact the Pro Rodeo hotline at 403-938-1518.