Six young women applied in hopes of becoming the next Ponoka Stampede Rodeo Queen, but there can only be one.
Katy Lucas, a rodeo competitor from Carstairs, was named the incoming queen for the 2014/15 term on April 28.
The recent broadcast journalism graduate of Lethbridge College says, in her new position, she’s in the perfect place to convey her passion for the sport of rodeo. “I think it’s just the opportunity to promote rodeo. Communication is something I’m obviously interested in.”
In her younger years, Lucas was dazzled by the glamour of rodeo queens but she now recognizes how she can help play a role in ensuring its survival. “I feel like this is my way to give back.”
That focus on the sport’s longevity is what drew Lucas to the Ponoka Stampede Rodeo Queen pageant. “I chose Ponoka Stampede because the stampede is all about the cowboy. Their dedication to promoting the cowboy and western way of life was very important to me as a rodeo competitor myself.”
This is Lucas’s fourth rodeo pageant. In 2008 she was crowned the Carstairs Rodeo Queen and in 2010/11 she was also the Alberta High School Rodeo Queen. Following that position, she ran for the National High School Rodeo Queen.
“I actually placed seventh and it was actually one of the tightest competitions they’ve ever had.”
Ponoka Stampede Association board director Bruce Harbin and the other members of the selection committee were thinking the same thing about the pageant competition this year. “I wish we could have all this talent spread over two or three years,” said Harbin.
“This is the best group. From what I’ve seen they’re all super candidates,” added committee member Dale Olsen.
Harbin says the process of finding the queen was streamlined in recent past to make the beginning of the search similar to a job application. Girls submit their resumes by the end of April and those the committee likes for the position are invited to the audition process.
The selection committee looks closely at the candidates’ horsemanship abilities, public speaking skills and personality. “Horsemanship is very important, and the ability to meet and greet people,” said selection committee member Lana Dodds.
“The girls must be able to represent rodeo. They need to be a well rounded person with a huge heart,” added committee member Karen Skelles. “In today’s world there’s so much sadness. They need to be able to be a light.
The five other candidates of the pageant were: Kayleigh Ware, who has attended the Ponoka Stampede for the majority of her life; Rachelle Dondurand, a rodeo and dressage rider with dreams of becoming a high school teacher; Shelby Oracheski, a former Coronation rodeo princess and drill team member; Kellyn Christensen, a legacy child in the world of rodeo pageants; and Lindsey Newman, a newcomer to rodeo competitions but long-time 4-H member.