There’s one thing that’s certain about this year’s Williams Lake Stampede Royalty contestants: each one of them would make a phenomenal queen.
Those are the sentiments of Chantelle Wessels, Williams Lake Stampede Association director in charge of the royalty program, who has been busy guiding this year’s participants through the program.
For the past four months, Miss Peterson Contracting Ltd. Karena Sokolan, Miss MH King Excavating Ltd. Bayley Cail and Miss Williams Lake Lions Kennady Dyck have been honing their skills in horsemanship, public speaking, rodeo/history/city knowledge and personal interview preparation in hopes of being crowned the next Stampede queen.
“It was jump in right away all the way,” Wessels said of getting the program up and running during the COVID-19 pandemic and after a two-year-long hiatus.
This year would have marked the 94th Annual Williams Lake Stampede, however, the event was called off for the second year due to provincial health guidelines.
“Everybody’s missing the rodeo so much, and the support has just been amazing for us and these girls. The whole community has been fabulous.”
Current plans to crown a queen and, potentially, a princess should their final judged scores be within 10 per cent of one another, are set for a formal coronation ceremony on Saturday, June 26.
“With COVID-19, we won’t get to do a big thing, 50 people only, so sponsors, the contestants, some family and a few of our directors,” Wessels said.
“Then we’re also trying to arrange for a crowning in the rodeo dirt (at the Stampede Grounds) with the drill team helping us out, some alumni set to ride with flags and a bit of a grand entry, and that would happen on July 1.”
Another event coming up is a fashion show starting at 7 p.m. on June 18 being hosted at the Tourism Discovery Centre.
“Due to COVID, all events are limited but we will be having live feeds for public speaking, horsemanship and fashion show,” Wessels said.
Sokolan, Cail and Dyck, meanwhile, will be marked on the following criteria prior to the coronation: 50 per cent horsemanship (written and practical), 20 per cent rodeo/history/city knowledge, 20 per cent public speaking and 10 per cent personal interview.
“We’ve kept the ladies pretty busy, even despite COVID and all that,” Wessels said. “I think we’ve done pretty well, and there’s always been something to do.”
All three contestants, she added, have made major strides building skills over the course of the competition.
“They’ve made leaps and bounds when we think of where we were back in March and, again, it’s only a couple months, but their confidence is so much better. Their families, the sponsors, have been commenting about the changes they notice, and it just really seals how great this program is.”
Overall, Wessels said the Royalty Committee is incredibly proud of all three girls, and noted all three hit the ground running with the Stampede royalty program.
“The ladies area all amazing,” she said, noting she expects and extremely close race.
“They’ve been so dedicated to everything we’ve done. They have listened to all the evaluations, whether for speech, horsemanship, and they have listened and taken the critique to heart and made the necessary changes to make themselves that much better.
“They are so personable and an amazing group of ladies. Any one of them will make a fantastic queen, ambassador to the Stampede, the City of Williams Lake and to the sport of rodeo.”
While nothing has been announced as of yet, the Williams Lake Stampede Association, meanwhile, has said plans are in the works for something to be held at a later date.
The crowned queen and potential princess will carry on their roles throughout the year until the following year’s Williams Lake Stampede in 2022, where they will pass on their crowns to next year’s royalty.
Wessels also thanked everyone who has supported the royalty program.
“This program would not be possible without the amazing committee, coaches, volunteers, sponsors and community support.”