This will be a big year for Michele Greer who was announced as the 2017 Ponoka Stampede Queen.
Greer’s win was announced April 5 at the Calnash Ag Event Centre after the pageant concluded.
The process to become a queen for the Ponoka Stampede and Exhibition Association involves a condensed pageant, explained director Bruce Harbin, who is also a member of the stampede queen committee.
Greer spent the last year preparing for the competition. The 23-year-old Ferintosh area lady said being a rodeo queen came on her radar in 2014 when she met then Miss Rodeo Canada Nicole Briggs. “What she stood for and how she treated people,” is what stood out for Greer.
Seeing Briggs speak with fans and sign photos on her day off made Greer want to be part of the experience.
Living on an acreage by Ferintosh, Greer grew up loving horses. “I wanted everything to do with them.”
“I read books. I watched movies…and I joined 4-H at a young age,” she added.
From there Greer worked and volunteered at summer camps and horse barns to gain more experience with the animals. She graduated from NAIT as a personal trainer and has completed her Kinesiology degree from the University of Alberta Augustana Campus.
Once she decided to take the road to being a Ponoka Stampede Queen, Greer did her research. She spoke with former stampede queens and asked their advice as well as found a coach who guided Greer through the ins and outs of being a rodeo queen.
On top of that Greer took reigning lessons and expanded her horsemanship. As for the competition, she enjoyed the camaraderie with the other candidates and wants to use this experience to get her closer to the goal of being Miss Rodeo Canada.
Outgoing queen Jadey van der Vlis is excited for Greer. She will officially hand over her crown on May 5 during the World Professional Chuckwagon Association Tarp Auction in Ponoka.
Van der Vlis had three pieces of advice for Greer:
First: To be genuine and to be herself
Second: To remember that Greer is now a representative of the Ponoka Stampede and Exhibition Association. “This is the most amazing committee in the whole world,” added van der Vlis.
“They picked you for a reason, remember that.”
Third: To walk with strength and dignity. “Not only when you have the crown on but when you have the crown off,” adding that this will be a memorable year.
For Harbin, the decision was not an easy one; there were four contestants in total, all of whom came prepared. “It’s more like a job interview. Ladies send in their resumes and bios.”
Along with their resumes, the candidates provide their background and history and then, if selected, they compete on selection day showing proficiency in public speaking, impromptu speaking and horsemanship.
“All the ladies were extremely talented and made the judges really earn their keep,” said Harbin.
That said, Greer was chosen because her character aligns with that of the Ponoka Stampede.
“She’s genuine, honest and she has good forward looking goals,” he explained, adding that Greer’s desire to be a mentor was a plus during the selection process.
Seeing such a strong caliber of contestants is a good thing in the eyes of the Stampede Association. The committee is looking for someone who will represent the association on a public level and seeing candidates prepared makes Harbin feel that the western rodeo heritage is strong.
“To have the talent that showed up too. That’s a blessing and a good sign that there’s youth that still care about the things we stand for,” explained Harbin.