My week shadowing the 2016 Miss Rodeo Canada pageant began on Monday, Nov. 9 at a luncheon hosted by Chianti’s. I was introduced to the contestants along with acting MRC President Pauline Briggs and Pageant Coordinator Sharon Koke. After lunch we headed to the Stollery Children’s Hospital. It seemed to me that during their time there the girls lit up with each new child they interacted with, just as much as the kids enjoyed having them there. The day ended with a formal dinner with past MRC2014 Nicole Briggs, and MRC2015 Katy Lucas sharing their eating etiquette knowledge and Queen experiences.
Tuesday, November 10
The day began early with a meet and greet in the MRC host hotel the Chateau Lacombe. From there the girls began the first components of the 2016 MRC pageant with the written exams followed by their personal interviews. I was privileged enough to sit silently in both. I was impressed with the maturity, thoughtfulness and upstanding character the girls displayed during their interviews. Everyone then had a busy afternoon visiting the St. Micheal’s Senior Home, where we were treated to a delicious dinner that included homemade pretzels! From there it was off to Londonderry Dodge for a tour and the girls got their first up close and personal look at the beautiful truck(fondly named Black Betty by Katy Lucas MRC2015) the 2016 MRC would be handed the keys to.
Tuesday evening had the girls competing as well as visiting Rodeo Royalty escorting the CFR contestants during the Back patch/number presentation ceremony.
Wednesday, November 11
The girls were excited to start their day as Wednesday is the Horsemanship portion of the MRC Pageant. It was so exciting to see the girls paired with their different horses for each of the tests. The Horsemanship consisted of two reining patterns, a flag ride and a Queen Wave ride as well as impromptu questions for all the girls. The day finished off with autograph signing at Welsh’s booth in the Expo center and the Charity Mechanical Bull Riding Tournament at Cook County. The girls were also joined by Danika Boland, Miss Rodeo Australia, Georgie Stower, Warwick Rodeo Queen and Lauren Heaton, Miss Rodeo America.
Thursday, November 12
Thursday morning started with a Cancer Foundation Charity Breakfast. It was then into the limo, which the girls were given the use of by Platinum Limos for the week, and off to Rodeo Magic and a morning spent with enthusiastic kids. Seeing the kids learning about rodeo and being paired up with cowboys and cowgirls was one of the highlights of the week. There was lots of laughter to be heard.
Thursday afternoon the girls had their public speaking competition. I was enthralled with each and every speech that was given. You could tell the girls put so much thought into their speeches and had worked very hard on presenting them! It was off to the CFR and the Prairie Oyster Shuck Charity Event at Knoxville’s. The muscles on my face were sore from laughing so hard at the very good sports the fireman who competed against the cowboys were! More than one face was a little green in colour when their two minutes was up!
From here it was back to the hotel for some quiet time and preparations for the crowning of the 2016 MRC during the evening CFR performance.
As an observer my week was full of experiences that have left me with an appreciative look at the behind the scenes of the MRC Program. The depth of character held by the contestants as well as the alumni that I spent time with impressed me. I have changed my outlook on who and what a rodeo Queen is. Looking past the crown and the bling they wear, I have been given the opportunity to see the incredible heart each of these girls bear. To hear their dreams and aspirations. The vast love for the sport of rodeo and our western heritage held close to the heart of each with the desire to serve and give of themselves during their reign.
Although only one girl walked away wearing the Miss Rodeo Canada title, all four contestants were winners. I have come home feeling enriched to have spent time with each of them. I know that their futures are bright and those around them will feel as blessed as I to have had our paths cross. I am proud to say they are our Rodeo Royalty.