Queens of the West
They have the gift of grit, gab and glamour. They proudly carry the flag and they are guided by the Cowboy Code. They are legend. They are emulated. They are the ambassadors of rodeo.
Photography: Kendall Nelson
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Girls who excel at many things
But not just anyone can be Queen.
The best competitors in this business are no different from the best in any other sport, like skiing or acrobatics. These girls display a determination and focus that would be admirable in any type of competition. One should not be fooled by the glamour, for beneath the spangles beats a spirit and will that is remarkable.
“These girls tend to be the types that excel at many things,” says Michelle Bobbitt, Queen Coordinator for Hailey Days of the Old West. “They set goals and strive to achieve them. They are not quitters; they are often hard-working farm girls taking a chance to get educational opportunities they might not otherwise be afforded.
“For me, I wanted to compete, but I wanted to be on a horse instead of in a bathing suit,” she says.
The concept of selecting a queen predates rodeo to be sure. Matriarchal societies exist from ant colonies to African villages, the Bible to Barbara Bush. In other words, queens rule and they long have.
Since the advent of the written word, the choosing of “the fairest of the fair” to reign over celebrations of Spring and the Harvest, to the combats in the Circus Maximus, is well documented. Who can forget Alice’s nemesis, the Queen of Hearts? >>>