Step aside, Meghan and Harry. Williams Lake will crown its own, new royalty this year.
Back after a two-year hiatus due to, first, a shortage of qualified candidates in 2019 and then the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the Williams Lake Stampede Royalty Committee is thrilled to announce it will host the annual royalty program in 2021.
Through the program a Stampede Queen and, possibly, also a Stampede Princess, will represent the community and the sport of rodeo.
“We are so thrilled,” said Patti Gerhardi, Royalty Program committee member, former Williams Lake Stampede Association director and past royalty director with the association.
“We have three young ladies who all have very different life experiences, and they are all extremely passionate.”
Miss MH King Excavating Ltd. Bayley Cail, 17, Miss Peterson Contracting Ltd. Karena Sokolan, 19 and Miss Williams Lake Lions Kennady Dyck, 18, will vie for the title of Williams Lake Stampede Queen.
Gerhardi said there were many inquiries when royalty applications were announced earlier this year with new requirements to the program.
“Prior to being considered as a candidate in the Williams Lake Stampede Royalty program each of the applicants is required — through the process of providing a video — to prove their horsemanship skill level,” she said. “Once that step has been evaluated they will become contestants and admitted in the royalty program.”
Also being introduced is a new Williams Lake Stampede Royalty director, Chantelle Wessels, who has been helping out with the program since 2019, Gerhardi said.
Wessels’ involvement with the program started in 1990 as both a contestant and, ultimately, one of the two 1990 Williams Lake Stampede Princesses.
Gerhardi, meanwhile, said as things move back into normalcy following the COVID-19 pandemic, this year seemed like a good time to plan for a staggered return to rodeo and the contest to run.
The Stampede Royalty program, itself, offers valuable skills to contestants, regardless of the end result, she added.
“Our ladies, through Lori Rankin at Eagle View Equestrian Centre, are offered level two of their national horsemanship training,” Gerhardi said. “They also get high school credits and receive certification in speechcraft through Toastmasters.”
The official crowning of the Stampede Royalty will take place at a to-be-announced date in June following contest judging in multiple areas of expertise including: horsemanship, public speaking, rodeo history, Williams Lake history and poise and etiquette.
“We’ll stick to what’s been very much our familiar format to give the girls that consistency and experience,” she said.
“They are normally crowned a week ahead of Stampede, then an official crowning in the (rodeo) dirt during the Friday night performance, and then reign for the following year until coronation when they turn over their crown.”
Despite plans for the Williams Lake Stampede still being up in the air, Gerhardi said everyone is still looking forward to having the program back.
Tim Rolph, vice-president of the Williams Lake Stampede Association, said the royalty program is one of the cornerstones of the WLSA with more than 75 years of history in the community.
“The Williams Lake Stampede Queen is one of the most recognizable in Canadian rodeo and, arguably, the predominate ambassador for our event, the city and region.”
Rolph added the women who take part in the program get the opportunity to improve their public speaking, increase their horsemanship knowledge and animal husbandry, travel throughout the region and beyond, hone leadership skills and become eligible for scholarships to assist their continuing education.
“We’re just excited,” Gerhardi said.
“We’re so happy with the young ladies that we have.”
Check a future edition of the Williams Lake Tribune for bios on each of this year’s Williams Lake Stampede Royalty contestants.
To keep up to date on this year’s Stampede royalty adventure you can follow Williams Lake Stampede Royalty on Facebook and on Instagram at @williamslakestampederoyalty.