The historic running of the 80th annual Ponoka Stampede has a new face.
Jadeyn Van Der Vlis, a 19 year-old student from Alhambra, was selected as the 2016 Miss Ponoka Stampede and will become the new ambassador for the Stampede, the town and the county for the next year.
“I’m overwhelmed by being presented with this huge honour and I’m so excited,” she said with a big smile moments after her name was announced as the winning candidate out of three finalists at the Calnash Ag Event Centre.
The selection committee chose Van Der Vlis because they felt she would provide a genuine role model for young girls and that her good moral character aligns very well with the fabric of the Ponoka Stampede. Her lifelong ranching and horse experience and firm roots in rural Alberta were also considered big assets in her selection. Rodeo queen candidates range in age from 18 to 23 years and must meet several requirements including horsemanship, public speaking and rodeo knowledge.
Van Der Vlis, who is studying for her Bachelor of Education degree at Red Deer College in the middle years program, can’t wait to get started on the tremendous amount of work that lay ahead of her over the next couple of months. That work will include participating in numerous community events up to and including a full course of appearances over the seven-day long Stampede
“It’s an awesome opportunity and going to be an amazing experience,” she stated. She received a trophy saddle, breast collar, trophy buckle and the chance to compete for Miss Rodeo Canada to go along with her title.
“Growing up, I loved everything about rodeo and been involved with horses my whole life. I have some big shoes to fill in past queens Ashley (Akkermans) and Katy (Lucas), so I’m definitely going to pick their brains and I know I will learn a lot from them.”
She added there is a lot of studying, research and clinics ahead for her as she begins her reign, but she realizes the rewards and experience she will derive from it will be more than worth the effort.