Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Medicine Hat Exhibition and Stampede Rodeo Royalty competition has two participants this year, and each will be wearing a crown by sunset; one will be Rodeo Queen and the other Rodeo Princess.
Makayla Gross was born and raised on a farm outside Bow Island and says her life was centered around the agriculture and cattle industries.
“That really led me to have a great passion for our local food and what it takes to be involved in the rural lifestyle and industries. And of course, along came a passion for horses,” said Gross.
When she graduated in 2019, she promptly left home for Europe. She trained horses at various establishments in England, Scotland and Germany. She returned home at the onset of COVID and opened her own horse training company, M7 Horsemanship, in Bow Island on her parents land.
She recently began her marketing degree at the University of Lethbridge and is spending the summer working as an agricultural marketing assistant.
“I absolutely love my role and what I’m doing, because so much of it is centered around closing the education gap between our urban and our rural population.”
Gross says people she met while travelling were so fascinated when she told them she grew up on a farm in Canada.
“There’s such a big disconnect between how we live as those involved in rural industries and how the rest of the population lives,” Gross explained. “That relates to my job and also why I wanted to run for the Stampede Queen competition. One of the roles of Queen and Princess is being an advocate for the sport of rodeo and the western way of life, the culture and traditions that go along with it. So I see this as the perfect role to help promote what I’m proud of in our culture and tradition and history.”
Dionne Freimark, current Rodeo Princess, said she and Rayelle Smith, Rodeo Queen, have enjoyed being mentors to the competitors this year.
“It’s nerve wracking being judged every second of the competition, so we’ve just been a support to the two girls and helped them along,” Freimark said. “They will both get a crown either way, so we are preparing them to be Queen and Princess, what to expect and that kind of thing.”
Freimark expressed how much she loved her reign. She hopes the incoming royalty do as well.
“Just treasure every moment. Seeing as you’re going to be in the public eye being an ambassador for the city of Medicine Hat and the sport of rodeo, just to take in everything,” Freimark said. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, just enjoy it.”
Gross has enjoyed the process of running for Rodeo Queen.
“All of competition week was so incredible to participate in,” said Gross. “I’m passionate about ways we can work within our local areas, and so after not being able to do much volunteer work, I was just so excited to be involved in the community again, so that was one of the biggest highlights of my competition week — just connecting with people again and getting out and meeting new faces and playing a role in the community.”
You can watch the crowning of the Rodeo Royalty tonight at the Summer Pro Rodeo at 8 p.m. The participants will be crowned during intermission in the Grandstand Arena.
Gross was crowned he 2021 MHES Queen is on Friday night.