SHERIDAN — Seven young women from the Sheridan area competed Saturday for a place in the Sheridan-Wyo-Rodeo Royalty.
Contestants compete in one of four categories, Queen (ages 19-24), Senior Princess (ages 17-18), Princess (ages 15-16) and Junior Princess (ages 10-14).
“Actually all of the girls were very close in their competitiveness and preparedness, so it was a close competition,” Rodeo Royalty Board President Kerri Cook said. “And we had three very well qualified judges. As far as quality, it was one of our best years.”
Contestants are judged on several attributes, including modeling two outfits, private interviews with the judges, giving a short speech and horsemanship. In addition, they have to demonstrate an ability to ride a horse while carrying a flag, which will be a required skill in various appearances through the next year if they are chosen as queen or princess. Cook said horsemanship counts for 50 percent of the ranking and personality and appearance count for 25 percent each.
This year’s winners will be announced at 6:30 p.m. at the Saturday rodeo performance. Their first official appearance will be the next day at the Big Horn Equestrian Center for the Wyo-Rodeo Polo Cup.
Rodeo Royalty Board Member Elaine Hilman said the Sheridan-Wyo-Rodeo Royalty competition attracts top contenders for the event and many of them go on to win state and national pageants and awards as well.
“We are pretty proud of the fact that we have had several go on to win Miss Rodeo Wyoming,” Hilman said. “Allie Bass won horsemanship at nationals (Miss Rodeo America pageant). Last year Kimberly Kuhn was our queen and she finished fifth at nationals (also won Miss Rodeo Wyoming 2012). So we’ve been pretty proud of the fact that we’ve done that well.”
Participants who are chosen as royalty can count on a busy year during their reign. In addition to required appearances throughout the year at events such as Don King Days, the Sheridan Christmas Stroll, the Elks Youth Rodeo and other events, the royalty winners can also be requested for appearances by other organizations.
“It gives them that sense of ‘we’re here to serve the community’ and not just ride in an arena at rodeo time,” Cook said.
The queen receives a $1,000 scholarship and a saddle. Multiple other prizes from area merchants are distributed to the other winners as well as to winners of other awards such as Miss Congeniality and Best Horsemanship.
“Actually you would be surprised at the girls,” Hilman said about what they gain from their year as queen or princess. “One little girl from last year, she is the shiest girl you ever saw. But she tried so hard and she got it! And what a difference it has made. She has really blossomed this year. It has given her so much self-confidence. It seems all the girls really gain.”
“I would say that is the greatest benefit of being in a royalty position, not that you get to wear this crown or you have this title, but you are put out in front of the public,” Cook concurred. “Some of the girls can barely speak on stage or raise their head to look at the audience and by the end of their year they are giving farewell speeches and leading the (next year’s) contestants in learning what to do. That is the most rewarding part is to see the growth that takes place in each girl.”