Ramona Rodeo Royalty will be joined by two big sisters May 29-31: Miss Rodeo America Maegan Ridley and Miss Rodeo California Ashley Hoffman.
“So we’re going to have three rodeo queens,” said rodeo committee co-chair Joanie Georgeson, beaming. “To have Miss Rodeo America is a big deal for the town. This girl has worked her way up to become Miss Rodeo America. And we have Miss Rodeo California and then we have our Miss Rodeo Ramona. What a trio!”
The young women will start promoting rodeo and the western lifestyle even before the rodeo begins. They’ll be at events such as the May 28 kickoff party and the May 29 Ramona Chamber of Commerce mixer, and they will participate in advance media presentations for area radio and television stations.
They will assist at events such as Kids Activities Day on Saturday and the Challenged Children’s Rodeo on Sunday, and they’ll be at Santa Ysabel Casino, the rodeo’s biggest sponsor, for breakfast and photos and to mingle with the crowd there on May 30, encouraging casino patrons to visit Ramona and the rodeo before heading home.
Ramona Rodeo Queen Rachel Owens and her court are busy even before rodeo weekend, visiting elementary school classrooms to talk about the annual rodeo coloring contest sponsored by Union Bank of California and about the rodeo.
Completing Ramona’s rodeo royalty court with Owens are Junior Queen Kayla Douglas, Young Miss Alexis Awrey and Little Miss Emily Payne.
Rodeo royalty from other communities will join the national, state and Ramona queens in the grand entry at the three rodeo shows. In addition, “they push cattle, they help the contractor, they carry sponsorship flags, they work in public relations in promoting the rodeo, they sign autographs, they mingle with the rodeo crowds, they’re very accessible to the public,” said Jeanne Pyeatt, Ramona Rodeo Queen Pageant director who oversees the queens’ activities. “They are walking ads for the rodeo.”
As Miss Rodeo America 2009, Ridley captured the crown at the conclusion of a weeklong competition of 27 queen hopefuls from across the country. The 20-year-old Alta Loma, Calif., resident is pursuing degrees in anatomy and physiology, focusing on speech language pathology. Her career goal is to assist cowboy patients as a member of the Justin Sports Medicine Team.
“As Miss Rodeo America, I will share with everyone why my heroes have always been cowboys,” she said. “What an honor, privilege and blessing it is to have this opportunity to represent rodeo in this capacity.”
In the next year, Ridley expects to travel at least 100,000 miles and participate in 100 rodeos.
As Miss Rodeo California 2009, Hoffman grew up in Salinas, where she learned from ranchers and cowboys that “the western way of life extends beyond being accomplished on horseback.” She understands hard work, integrity, passion and generosity, values that helped her dream of graduating from Stanford University come true.
Hoffman earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, with a minor in political science, at Stanford, where she was captain of the Western Equestrian Team and competed in inter-collegiate and at regional and national levels in Open Reining and Horsemanship.
Pyeatt and other members of the Ramona Rodeo Committee thank all of the queens for the busy four days they will have adding a valuable dimension to the 29th annual event.
“And don’t forget the sponsors,” said Pyeatt. “They make the rodeo happen. Without them, there wouldn’t be a rodeo, there wouldn’t be a queen pageant. It takes sponsors to meet the financial obligations to put the rodeo on, and it’s great family entertainment.”