Real rodeo, real royalty
EAGLE ” There’s royalty out at the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo.
There is every year, thanks to the Fair and Rodeo Royalty Committee. On July 23, the newest addition to Eagle County royalty was announced when Dusty Maurello was named queen.
Every year, a new queen, and queen’s attendant (a kind-of lady-in-waiting), is picked for the fair and rodeo. Last year’s queen was Kensie Scott. Her attendant was Jessica Stiles. This year, Maurello was named the queen for 2006, and Britney Smith her attendant.
Other royalty, in addition to the queen and her attendant, are the 2005 princess, Tracy Schlegel, and her princess attendant, Brandee Smith.
The tradition has been going on for years, and it means a lot to the participants.
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“It’s our job to promote the fair and rodeo all over the state, and to do the grand entry each night at our rodeo,” said Maurello. “It is such an honor, and it’s something I have wanted to do my whole life.”
The competition for the crown has many phases. The girls have to model a dress for judges; they give a 3-minute speech about what the fair and rodeo means to them; there is an impromptu question-and-answer session with judges; and the girls have to display a variety of skills with horses.
The most important part is riding in for the grand entry and carrying the U.S. flag.
Once named fair-and-rodeo royalty, the real work begins, said Kasey Wood, a former queen and current president of the royalty committee.
“They do parades, and go to other local rodeos,” said Wood, who is Maurello’s sister. “They have to greet people at the rodeo, do radio and TV interviews, hand out ribbons.”
Promoting the fair and rodeo is hard work, said Wood, and that’s why the queen is named a full year in advance. Maurello and Smith have a role in this year’s proceedings, but their big fair and rodeo is next year.
The royalty don’t get much of a rest during the two-week long Fair and Rodeo. It’s a time filled with late nights and early mornings. But the girls wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Royalty has its rewards, too. As queen, Maurello has been given a beautiful saddle, a buckle, a tiara and a sash commemorating her achievement. The attendant, Smith, also got a buckle and a sash that says ‘2006 Eagle County Fair and Rodeo.’
So don’t be surprised to see a group of girls running around the rodeo with sashes proclaiming their royalty. “I just love it,” said Maurello. “There is so much that is great about our fair and rodeo.”