It was a day fit for royalty on Sept. 11 at Casey Jones Park in Elizabeth as the Elizabeth Stampede Rodeo held its annual Royalty Competition to crown its 2022 Queen and Attendant. The park was alive …
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It was a day fit for royalty on Sept. 11 at Casey Jones Park in Elizabeth as the Elizabeth Stampede Rodeo held its annual Royalty Competition to crown its 2022 Queen and Attendant.
The park was alive with excited energy on competition day as the girls, their parents, the judges and the royalty committee were preparing for the day’s events. Three outside judges were brought in to judge the competition in order to eliminate any bias toward one contestant or another.
This year’s event was the first time in two years that the Elizabeth Stampede has held the Royalty Competition. The 2020 competition was canceled due to COVID-19, leaving Queen Breanna Eddy and Attendant Kayla Bailey serving a two-year reign.
“Since we had to cancel last year due to COVID, we are all really looking forward to this year,” said Jill Stuebner, chair for the Elizabeth Stampede Royalty Committee, ahead of the event. “The girls especially are so excited.”
This year, there were six enthusiastic girls trying out for either queen or attendant: CayDee Clausen of Kiowa, Kyra Doud of Elizabeth, Sydney Nelson of Colorado Springs, Tristian Stuchlik of Kiowa, Hannah Thomas of Franktown and Josie Thomas of Franktown. Six is a larger than average number of contestants. Stuebner believes this is likely due to the cancellation of last year’s competition.
The competition is rigorous, encompassing a wide range of skills and abilities. The competition is divided into multiple categories for judging. Half of the points awarded to each contestant come from horsemanship. The remaining points are awarded for personal interviews, a history test, a speech competition, modeling, and group impromptu questions.
The competition began with the Horsemanship Tack Up, where judges went around the dusty lot to score the contestants, observing how they interact with their horses, their grooming practice, and how they handle the overall tacking-up process. The girls shared information about their relationship with their horses, including how long they’ve been riding.
Then followed the Horsemanship Competition. The contestants must ride a prescribed path, answer impromptu questions from the judges, ride with a flag, and show off their queen’s wave. As each rider gave her queen’s wave and made her way around the stadium on horseback, the crowd of parents cheered and Jace Glick, volunteer announcer for the event, read off each of the contestant’s accolades.
Next, each girl was ushered into a room of the Casey Jones Pavilion one-by-one as they were interviewed by the three judges. Each was adorned with Western wear, exemplifying their love for the Western way of life. The questions ranged widely, some of which were very emotional for the contestants. A few of the girls had tears in their eyes as they expressed their love for rodeo culture and their community.
After completing the interview, one contestant shared her experience. “It was actually much easier than I thought it would be,” said Sydney Nelson. “I wanted it to be a lot harder, honestly. I want to use all that knowledge because I studied a lot!”
Following the interview was a history test over knowledge of the Elizabeth Stampede and rodeo culture. Nervously waiting outside of the testing room, some parents expressed their excitement for their daughters during this rigorous day.
“Kyra has been studying and working so hard for this day,” said Janelle Doud of Elizabeth. “She would actually quiz me! I really think that is the best way to learn.”
Another mom explained how hard her daughter had been working over the past few months. “Getting ready for this competition is always an exciting challenge,” said the mother of Tristian Stuchlik. “Picking out outfits on a budget is really fun. She practices lots of horse rigging and studies a lot to become more comfortable with horse knowledge and general rodeo rules.”
The speech, impromptu questions, and modeling portions of the competition followed. Each contestant stood nervously at the front of the room looking out to of eager parents as they nervously expressed their interpretation of the Elizabeth Stampede motto: “Life. Liberty. Rodeo.”
Newly crowned Attendant Hannah Thomas said in her speech: “There is something special about rodeo culture and the community. I know other communities in other sports are passionate, but for the rodeo community, the passion is different. It is even greater!”
During the speaking portions of the competition, she was well-spoken and made excellent eye contact with the judges, all while equipped with a radiant smile.
In an Elizabeth Stampede Rodeo first, two siblings were crowned Queen and Attendant. Josie Thomas was crowned queen while her sister, Hannah Thomas, was crowned attendant.
This day begins the yearlong reign for the Thomas sisters in their mission to promote rodeo culture and the Western way of life.
On Sept. 9, Royalty Committee Chair Jill Stuebner explained that the most important job for rodeo royalty is to educate the public.
“The girls are true ambassadors for the rodeo world,” said Stuebner. “They travel over 1,000 miles promoting the Western way of life.”
Upcoming events for Queen Josie Thomas and Attendant Hannah Thomas will be events at the pumpkin patch in Elizabeth, the Eagle’s Nest event for veterans, as well as the annual harvest festival, Christmas events and stock shows. They will culminate their reign at the 2022 Elizabeth Stampede Rodeo taking place on from June 2-5.
You can find more information on the Elizabeth Stampede Rodeo Royalty on their Facebook page at facebook.com/esrqueens.
For more information on the Elizabeth Stampede Rodeo, visit elizabethstampede.com.
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