Queen Carthy carries the crown
Just ask Lindsay Bradshaw or Desiree Brown. Or you can ask Connie Carthy, this year’s Eagle County Fair and Rodeo Queen, which starts tomorrow and ends on Sunday, Aug. 4.When the decision of the judges was announced last weekend, there were squeals, giggles, a few tears or joy and a few of disappointment. Any lingering doubt was gone by the time Brown finished pinning the sash on Carthy, her successor.There was none of the wailing and embittered second-guessing that goes with some contests of this nature. This year’s judges were brought in from the Front Range to quiet that sort of uproar.During private interviews, judges Jody Martin Witt and Andy Stevens asked all 10 contestants exactly the same questions in exactly the same way. Although their answers were not the same, the contestants were all poised, calm confident – whether they knew the answers or not. Most stumbled over stuff like the identity of the PRCA champion “All-Around Cowboy,” but they knocked the questions about ethics and values out of the park.Queen Carthy knew more than most, and she also understood how to deal with naysayers like the animal rights activists who will sometimes cross her path during her year-long reign.”Don’t engage them,” she said.Her five-minute public speech was punchy, informative and entertaining, and she and her horse performed like a dance team, which, of course they are.”The Eagle County Fair and Rodeo Queen is a walking, riding advertisement for this community,” said fair board member Kim Spahmer, owner of Flying Colors in Edwards, who coordinated this year’s queen contest. “In many instances, the queen is the first impression people have of Eagle County. She’s a huge role model. Almost every little girl who gets on a horse wants to be the rodeo queen.”It’s good to be queenAs last Saturday’s rodeo royalty competition wore on, from morning to late afternoon, and the tension thickened as the final decision grew nearer, the last two queens, Brown and Bradshaw, floated across the room like they were born to do this, moving from contestants to parents to fair officials, engaging, laughing, then floating on. As they did, a dozen girls watched them, wanting to be like them.A worthy goal.It’s good to be queenWitt, a trainer of both horses and people – “Horses are easier,” she says – has been judging these contests for years.Stevens, meanwhile, is a custom saddle-maker and a sponsor of the Miss Rodeo America competition. This is hardly his first time into the fray, either. His fiance is the former Miss Rodeo Colorado. They are in the process of living happily ever after. Both have years of judging experience in dozens of contests all over the West.Witt says they’re looking for more than horsemanship, more than beauty.”It’s the balance of the rider, the correctness of the pattern they ride,” said Witt. “In addition, they must present a picture of poise and personality. Presentation really is key.”Queen Carthy is all that. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that she’s as pretty as a Rocky Mountain sunrise.In fact, the 10 contestants – five for queen and five for princess – underwent a complete metamorphosis, transforming themselves from horse-owning kids to stunning, steal-your-heart-and-ride-off-into-the-sunset-with-it young women. And that explains why cowboys, who spend a great deal of time in the company of people like this have a reputation for being somewhat moon-eyed. The contestants spend weeks preparing, but when it gets down to showtime their entire worlds are held together with bobby pins, hair spray, clips, sparkles, spangles and a little carpet tape inside the front of their hat band to keep it from flying off during the riding event. It’s all pretty tenuous, although more stable than the stock market right now.Plus, they each must contend with a horse, which may or may not want to be there that day.”It’s just as easy to have a bad horse day as it is to have a bad hair day,” said Witt. “These kinds of events tend to create both.”Somewhere, Dale Evans, a woman who saddled her own horse thank-you-very-much, is smiling.It’s good to be queenCarthy’s family has been involved with the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo since its inaugural year, 1939. The 16-year old has been involved with 4-H and the Fair and Rodeo since she was tall enough to see over the saddle horn, as her mother before her and their family before that.”My parents wouldn’t let me try out until I was 16 and could drive myself,” said Carthy, one of several Carthy children, and who can drive her own truck and back her own trailer.The Queen’s duties begin with the fair’s opening event tonight – Mr. T’s Bullrider’s Classic – and don’t end any time soon.”The queen is a spokesperson for both the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo and the community,” said Spahmer. “Her duties extend for an entire year.”After last Saturday’s competition, Queen Carthy donned her tiara, firmly pinned to her black cowboy hat, and wore it to the Gypsum Daze concert featuring Pam Tillis and Rascal Flatts. People in the crowd smiled and congratulated her. Little kids wandered over to meet her. She was gracious.The crown is on a level head.It’s good to be queen.Eagle County Fair & Rodeo schedule:Saturday- 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. Commercial vendor set-up. Fairgrounds and Rodeo Arena.- 7 p.m. – Grand Entry & Kick-off Event: Eagle County Classic Bull-riding and Salute to America.- 9 p.m. – Concert: Walker Williams/Arena Dirt Dance. Tickets: $14/Adults $6/Children (6-12) $10/Seniors.Sunday- 9:30 a.m. – 4-H Hunter/Jumper Horse Show.Monday- 8 – 11 a.m. – Exhibit Hall Booth set-up (educational & nonprofit vendors)- 9 a.m. – 4-H Western Horse Show.- Noon – 6 p.m. – Enter non-perishable Open Class Exhibits in the Exhibit Hall.Tuesday- 7 – 8:30 a.m. – Enter all perishable Open Class Exhibits in the Exhibit Hall.- 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. – Open Class and 4-H judging and interviews in the Exhibit Hall. (Exhibit Hall closed during judging, opens Wednesday 5 – 8 p.m. All pens available. Livestock can begin arriving- 6 p.m. – Youth & Open Gymkhana Show.Wednesday- 1 p.m. – 4-H – Weigh-In of sale animals begins.- 2 p.m. – Carnival opens.- 3 p.m. – All animals must be in place.- 4 p.m. – 4-H Poultry Show.- 5 – 8 p.m. – Exhibit Hall open to public.- 6 – 6:30 p.m. – Register entries in the Exhibit Hall for the Cookie Jar Contest.- 6 p.m. – Dessert in Exhibit Hall.- 7 p.m. – Cookie Jar Contest.- 7 p.m. – PRCA Rodeo/Family Night.($1 Fairgrounds admission; rodeo ticket Includes fairgrounds admission.Tickets: $12/adults; $5/children 6-12; $8/seniors; family package for two adults and two children 6-12 is $25, $3 for each additional child.Thursday- 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. – Exhibit Hall open to public.- 9 a.m. – 4-H Market Hog Show.- 10 a.m. – Pressure-canning-lid testing. Drop your canning lids off at the Exhibit Hall for testing.- 11 a.m. – Carnival opens.- 1:30 p.m. – 4-H Lamb Show.- 3 p.m. – 4-H Goat Show.- 6 p.m. – 4-H Games in Red Barn.- 6 p.m. – Dessert in the Exhibit Hall.- 7 p.m. – PRCA Rodeo/4-H Night at the Rodeo: $1 fairgrounds admission; rodeo ticket Includes Fairgrounds admission. Tickets: $12/adults; $5/children 6-12; $8/seniors.Friday- 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. – Exhibit Hall open to public- 9 a.m. – 4-H Beef Show.- 11 a.m. – Carnival opens.- 1 p.m. – 4-H Rabbit Show.- 2 p.m. – 4-H Demonstration Contest in the Exhibit Hall.- 3 p.m. – 4-H Cat Show in the Exhibit Hall.- 6 p.m. – 4-H Fashion Revue in the Exhibit Hall.- 6 p.m. – Dessert in Exhibit Hall.- 7 p.m. PRCA Rodeo/T.G.I.F. Night: $1 fairgrounds admission; rodeo ticket Includes fairgrounds admission. Tickets: $12/adults; $5/children 6-12; $8/seniors.- 9 p.m. – Free concert with Derringer.Saturday, Aug. 3- 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. Exhibit Hall open to public.- 9 a.m. – 4-H Round Robin Showmanship.- 9:30 a.m. – Pretty Baby Contest registration in the Exhibit Hall.- 10 a.m. – Pretty Baby Contest in the Exhibit Hall.- 10 a.m. – Carnival opens.- Noon – Salsa Contest in the Exhibit Hall; registration 9 – 11 a.m.- 3 p.m. – Vegetable Sculpting Contest.- 4 p.m. – Junior Livestock Auction.- 6 p.m. – Dessert in Exhibit Hall- 8 p.m. PRCA Rodeo/Junior Livestock Buyer Night: $1 Fair grounds admission;rodeo ticket includes fairgrounds admission; tickets: $12/adults $5/children 6-12; $8/seniors.- Sunday, Aug. 4 (Free Grounds Admission – Free Parking)- 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. – Carnival & Vendors Open/Family Picnic Day- 10 a.m. – Release of exhibits from Exhibit Hall.- Noon – 4-H Dog Show.