Rodeo queens are an integral part of Ramona’s annual event that highlights the western lifestyle.
“They make our fans and sponsors feel very welcome and appreciated,” said queen coordinator Jeanne Pyeatt.
Besides greeting fans at the rodeo, the four queens do a lot of pre-rodeo promotions and assist in many activities, including the Kids’ Day events.
The rodeo is a production that has to go quickly and smoothly, and there is a lot of activity going on behind the scenes with the cowboys, clowns and other performers. The queens are given day sheets so they know where they have to be at different times.
The girls have also been busy in a public relations role to promote the rodeo by visiting schools and community events, including the Ramona Bluegrass Festival the weekend of May 8 and 9. They will be at the Ramona Chamber of Commerce Mixer put on by Santa Ysabel Casino on Thursday, May 20, and the KSON Meet and Greet at Sizzler of Ramona from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, May 21. In addition, the girls will be participating in a variety of radio and television interviews. They will continue throughout the year to promote rodeos.
“They’re at every major community event,” said Pyeatt.
The 2010 Ramona Rodeo royalty are Senior Queen Sally Jones, Junior Queen Brittney Phillips, Young Miss Bridgette LaHaye, and Little Miss Farah Angel.
Senior Queen Sally Jones, a sophomore at Miramar College, plans to transfer to University of California, San Diego (UCSD) next spring. The 21-year-old bio-chemistry major has a love for animals and works at the Giddy-Up Large Animal Veterinary Practice, where she does “a little bit of everything.”
Sally has two horses, 27-year-old Dane, her first horse, and a paint colt named Stetson that she received for her 19th birthday. She enjoys the horses so much that she completed her last two years in high school through independent study so she could ride more often.
Sally knows that children get excited at the rodeos about cowboys, bulls and queens.
“I always loved going to rodeos,” Sally said.
Attending her first rodeo at age 11, she got to see the queen crowned and that’s when she became interested in competing to be rodeo queen. “Rodeo queens have a chance to be great role models for children,” she said, adding that the queens can open the children’s eyes to the western heritage. Sally also thinks it’s great to get involved in the community.
Sally is doing a balancing act with school, rodeo, work and home but is thoroughly enjoying it all.
“I feel like I have four lives,” she laughed.
Junior Queen Brittney Phillips is a 16-year-old junior at Ramona High School. Her favorite school subject is world history, “because there are a lot of events in the news today that relate to older events,” she said. This year Brittney has been focusing on her duties as rodeo queen, her schoolwork and spending time with her family. With three horses at home, Brittney said her favorite is Barbie, an 8-year-old palomino.
“She’s my girl,” Brittney said of her horse that “everyone kept calling Barbie.” Brittney explained that with her blond hair and the horse being a palomino, people seemed to think “Barbie” suited the horse.
Unfortunately Barbie is temporarily laid up, so Brittney said she will probably ride Blackjack in the rodeo, a horse she received for her eighth birthday and one that she describes as her “knight in shining armor.”
After high school, Brittney plans to attend a junior college. She is interested in helping adults or children with disabilities or working with breast cancer survivors, the interest sparked by her experience with her mother, who is a breast cancer survivor.
Young Miss Bridgette LaHaye attends Valley Center Middle School, where she is in the eighth grade. The 13-year-old likes sports, plays volleyball and soccer, and plans to continue with soccer next year at Valley Center High School. Bridgette also participates in the Valley Center Vaqueros Young Riders and in the Valley Center 4-H Club. She has been involved with the Vaqueros for three years and said she has been the announcer at shows when she was not riding.
Bridgette has been riding horses since she was 4 years old. “My mom grew up with cats and my dad grew up with motorcycles,” she said. So, for her fourth birthday her parents decided to get her a pony. It was the right choice. Today she rides her quarter horse, Jedd, as much as she can.
This year she has a red Angus steer to show for 4-H at the San Diego County Fair. “I’ve raised both sheep and steer for 4-H,” she said.
Bridgette said the Ramona program teaches how to give speeches, how to do modeling, how to do interviews, and it provides a lot of information about rodeos and the community. Rodeo queens do not have to live in Ramona, but they do have to know all about the community. When asked if it was difficult to do this, being from Valley Center, Bridgette was quick to note that she has friends in Ramona and was quite familiar with the community before competing for rodeo queen.
Little Miss Farah Angel is a fifth-grader at James Dukes Elementary School, where she said her favorite subject is social studies because she likes history. The 11-year-old is in her third year of Pop Warner Cheer and rotates between serving as a back spotter and a base for the cheer stunts.
“It’s a lot of fun, a lot of work and exercise,” she said of her participation on the cheer team. She has traveled with her team to cheerleading competitions.
In her spare time, Farah enjoys drawing.
“I love drawing, that’s my favorite,” she said of her hobbies.
The fifth-grade student also loves horses. She began riding when she was 5 years old and, although she took a break for a few years from riding, she now enjoys spending time with her quarter horse, named Whistler. She rides her horse on trail rides, in parades and has been involved with showmanship.
Farah, who has participated in cancer walks, said she likes to help out at events. With all the activities to attend as rodeo queen, she said she likes the fact that they will fill her time and give her something to do, because she doesn’t like to just sit around. She is very excited about the rodeo and all her duties as a queen, including signing autographs.
Farah said she decided to compete for Little Miss rodeo queen because “I thought it was interesting. There’s a lot of horses and I love horses.”