Miss Rodeo Lakeside 2016…to be continued

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Western Days in Lakeside had its unofficial kickoff on Saturday with the 2016 Lakeside Rodeo Queens pageant. And the pageant is steering in a new direction this year, as the pageant winners will not be announced until the 2:00 p.m. Lakeside Rodeo performance on Saturday, April 23. At first, my thoughts were mixed on this. But in seeing the new direction, there are a lot of good reasons for this change. For one, the judging is not over.

Western Days in Lakeside had its unofficial kickoff on Saturday with the 2016 Lakeside Rodeo Queens pageant. And the pageant is steering in a new direction this year, as the pageant winners will not be announced until the 2:00 p.m. Lakeside Rodeo performance on Saturday, April 23. At first, my thoughts were mixed on this. But in seeing the new direction, there are a lot of good reasons for this change. For one, the judging is not over.

This year, with two contestants running for Jr. Miss Rodeo Lakeside and 7 contestants running for Miss Rodeo Lakeside, the judges are pushing the limits of the contestants. Unlike other scholarship pageants in the region (which there were three on Saturday), these young women are not only judged on poise, speech and public representation, they are also judged on their horsemanship skills, have to take a test on rodeo terms and have a comprehensive understanding of all things rodeo.

Miss Rodeo Lakeside 2015 Amanda Hop and Elisa Swenson, former 2014 Miss Rodeo USA, Miss Bulls Only Rodeo 2013 and Miss Rodeo Lakeside 2011, emceed the evenings events. This came after weeks of working towards the pageant, making appearances with Hop and Miss Jr. Rodeo Lakeside 2015 Taylor Finney. Saturday was a big day with horsemanship competition in the morning, testing and personal interviews in the afternoon along with a public speaking essay on a particular subject, in which they only had an hour to prepare.

After the casual wear portion of the pageant, which included two impromptu questions, one random and one on rodeo terminology, contestants donned their elegant formal western wear and had to give their speech. My favorite subject by far was, “If this dirt could talk.” After all was said and done, this year’s judges have a very difficult decision to make.

As part of this year’s change, secret judges have been silently watching the contestants as they made public appearances with the current reigning queens, and will continue to do so until the crowning. This gives the contestants a chance to share more in the Western Days activities, including all of them participate in Lakeside’s Western Days Parade.

My early hesitations were that there is a part of me that believes that the newly crowned rodeo queens should have their own complete rodeo. But if they stand true to this course in the future, I believe that all that participate in the pageant will gain more experience and exposure to the world of representing the nation’s oldest sport. And as in most pageants, many contestants take years of competing before earning the title and wearing the crown. As I said, the judges have a tough decision and it is wonderful to see a greater level of participation in this particular pageant.

A lot of that participation I credit to Hop and Finney. They represented the sport of rodeo, the importance of representing not only the sport, but the community as well. Their commitment and enthusiasm is exactly what is needed to bring the next generation of rodeo queens and rodeo fans into the arena. Their contribution is noteworthy and the benefits that the El Capitan Stadium Association and the Lakeside Rodeo brings to the youth of Lakeside is priceless.

This has to be painstakingly nerve wrecking for the contestants, but with what I saw on Saturday, there is no wrong choice for the new Miss Rodeo Lakeside and Jr. Miss Rodeo Lakeside. They all had their merits and each one of them would be a great representative.

So add another event to the Lakeside Western Days, and be at that Saturday performance to see who takes the crown and will represent the Lakeside Rodeo. So round up the family and come to the rodeo. It only happens once a year. And remember, or put on your calendar that Western Days is kicking off this Saturday, April 16 at the Rodeo Grounds with the Lakeside Optimist Western Days BBQ Dinner from 5:00 – 8:00. Tickets are only $10 and children under 6 are free. And once again, all the proceeds that the Lakeside Optimist make, including the Lakeside Optimist Bulls Only Rodeo in July, go directly back into helping the youth of Lakeside.

We’ll have all of the Western Days and Lakeside Rodeo events in next week’s edition.

So gear up and let’s rodeo!