ATB Financial followed Miss Rodeo Canada 2019, Jaden Holle, for a day at the Ponoka Stampede. It’s counted as one among the five largest rodeos in the world.
During the first week of July there is over 35 rodeos taking place and there is a tremendous amount of money to be won dubbing the weekend Cowboy Christmas. This is an extremely important time for the cowboys and cowgirls in the quest to make it to the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.
Jaden’s day begins with a production meeting at the rodeo office with all of the Ponoka Stampede staff. They run through the day’s events with each hour meticulously planned. Jaden’s official duties include carrying the Canadian flag during Oh Canada in the rodeo and running cattle back into their pens for the team roping and steer wrestling events. In between, she’ll mingle with rodeo fans to sign autographs and visit sponsor suites. Here, Jaden meets up with Miss Ponoka Stampede, Naomi Akkermans, who shares the same schedule.
First Miss Rodeo Canada attends the 20th Anniversary Ponoka Stampede Rodeo Challenge. Children between the ages of 5 and 8 with special needs and disabilities are paired up with a rodeo competitor and try their hands at rodeo events.
“The children are so sweet. They always have a great time and it’s fun to see them smile,” said Jaden.
There are stringent guidelines for Miss Rodeo Canada to adhere to. She is not only an ambassador for the sport but also a role model for the littests of rodeo fans. Public speaking and personality play as equality as important role as horsemanship and rodeo knowledge.
Jaden speaks Spanish, French and English—and, as a Métis is also learning Cree, the language of her grandparents.
Wild West Willie is a gentle giant from Bentley, Alberta. He gets his height from being half Brahma and size from being half Angus and weighs an incredible 1,270 kilograms. Willie and his owner, Doug Rogers, travel from rodeo to rodeo as summer long.
“I guess I should be careful. I’m wearing spurs. He is beautiful,” said Jaden.
With the childrens’ rodeo complete, Jaden and Naomie head back to the barn to prep their horses for the professional rodeo. They play a key role for several of the events. There is no time to stop and eat.
Rooster came out of retirement specifically for Jaden to ride at the 2019 Ponoka Stampede. He’s a calm and gentle horse who doesn’t mind when Jaden adds the occasional dusting of sparkles to his back side.
“The kids really like the sparkles,” said Jaden.
Rain or shine (or even hail) will not stop the rodeo or Miss Rodeo Canada. The prairie weather can sometimes be unpredictable during rodeo season so she comes prepared. The Ponoka Stampede also runs over the Canada Day long weekend making it feel even more special to carry the nation’s flag.
Jaden and Rooster chase down livestock during the professional rodeo events. It sometimes comes as a surprise to some rodeo fans that the Miss Rodeo Canada pageant is more than just rhinestones and tiaras. Pageant contestants need to demonstrate excellent horsemanship in order to be crowned queen.
Mud happens. Especially after a storm.
“Can you hand me my purse?”
Once the team roping event is complete, Jaden makes her way up into the grandstands and visits with rodeo fans. Here she hands out paper Miss Rodeo Canada crowns to future rodeo stars and signs autographs.
“I just know the rodeo events so I keep and eye on that for timing of how long I have before I go back down to the in-field,” explained Jaden.
One last official duty before the end of the day—drawing names for the coveted prize of 40 bred heifers or $70,000. The draw is so important, jewelry must be removed and sleeves rolled up to leave no room for error.
Then it’s off to the hotel for a quick bite to eat, outfit change and makeup touch ups before the chuckwagon races and nightly concert, all the while mingling with fans.
Jaden will continue on to the Calgary Stampede. The next Miss Rodeo Canada will be crowned at the Canadian Finals Rodeo in the fall.
To learn more visit the Miss Rodeo Canada website.