It’s a guarantee that the 2019 Ponoka Stampede Queen will be a hometown girl.
Kayla Dueck, 20, and Naomi Akkermans, 21, are the lone contestants vying to represent the prestigious event for the next 12 months. The selection committee conducted interviews on April 26 with the official crowning of the Stampede’s representative to be made May 3 at the Stampede chuckwagon tarp auction.
Akkermans has made Ponoka her home after growing up near Sylvan Lake and is in the midst of obtaining her Bachelor of Education from the University of Lethbridge in addition to an arts degree.
“I’ve grown up with the Stampede my whole life. I have not missed one, not even when I was in the womb,” she said.
Having that kind of love for the Stampede is one reason for wanting to represent the Stampede. Another is showing her non-country friends what rodeo is like and how cool it can be.
Dueck, who recently finished her social work degree at Red Deer College and is a highly successful barrel racer, is hoping that becoming queen for Ponoka could be another step toward her ultimate goal of being Miss Rodeo Canada.
“I have aspired to this since 2014, when I was at a clinic in Innisfail and I just thought it was the coolest thing ever that Miss Rodeo Canada approached me during a break,” she said.
“Then the next year, I was named as the Rimbey Rodeo queen and I would love to be able to represent Ponoka and maybe even Canada.”
Passing the crown
Meanwhile, the reign of 2018 Ponoka Stampede queen Alicia Erickson has concluded and that means an end to a dream come true for the Trochu native.
“It’s been all I could have imagined and more and having been given the opportunity to be a positive role model by being able to talk to youth about mental health,” she said.
Erickson added she’s learned so much about herself, had some incredible mentors and had so many doors opened that she hopes she has helped make a difference to people like many have done for her.