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Evergreen’s Rodeo Royalty: Meet Sierra, Lauren & Gabriella

With the coming of the Evergreen Rodeo on Father’s Day Weekend, the 2015 Evergreen Royalty will represent their town, the history and the tradition of the Evergreen Rodeo.  These three young ladies have spent the last year serving our community, preserving our western heritage and promoting rodeo.  They represent the Evergreen Rodeo Association and community as ambassadors with the highest level of integrity and professionalism.

The Evergreen Rodeo Royalty spends numerous hours volunteering for events throughout the year, starting with the National Western Stock Show and various community events throughout the state of Colorado. They volunteer several hundred hours promoting the community, local rodeos and rodeo events all over the state of Colorado, including our own this year June 19th-21st.

The Evergreen royalty includes, Miss Evergreen Rodeo (ages 17 – 24), Evergreen Rodeo Princess (ages 15 – 17) and the Evergreen Rodeo Junior Princess (ages 10 – 14).

Contestants go through an extensive competition that takes place over several days and events.  The girls are judged based on the following criteria: formal and casual modeling, impromptu questions at each event, two personal interviews with the judges, a speech, a written exam and a full day of horsemanship.

Jody Benefiel, Evergreen Rodeo Royalty Coordinator states: “they work all year round going to various events representing our rodeo. They are amazing, intelligent and beautiful young women who will get up at the crack of dawn, drive several miles or hours to reach an event, be royalty ready with hair and make-up done and an assortment of outfits for whatever comes their way and always ready to help out where ever they are needed.”

In their own words, the Sierra, Lauren and Gabriella talk about their horses and what being part of the Evergreen Rodeo has meant to them over the past year.

Sierra Knodle, Miss Rodeo Evergreen

Ever since I can remember, I have had a passion for horses. When I was much younger, I was like any other little girl, posters of the majestic animals on every wall, horse stuffed animals everywhere, not to mention every Birthday wish list began with one item; My very own horse. At this time I was only four or five and what did horses mean to me? They were big, fast, beautiful animals. They were outstanding pets that could, of course, be dressed to match in all purple. I could braid their beautiful manes and tails and maybe even add a couple of flowers.

As I continue through the journey of life, I have had many passions, but they have come and gone. It is my horses that have been there through everything. I fell in love with the sport of rodeo, as well as the rodeo queens, early on in life. However my thoughts on them are similar to the horses. It wasn’t until much older I learned what it was really about. Rodeo was something greater than I had ever imagined. A sport that was all about hard work, bringing athletes together through man and animal.  Queening is also similar. As a child, I saw the rhinestones, the pretty horses and the crown. But as my last few weeks as Miss Evergreen Rodeo are soon to be over, I am reminded daily that having the opportunity to represent the Evergreen Rodeo as their queen isn’t just about wearing the crown. It is about sharing my passion for rodeo and my unconditional love for horses, and helping others find their passion too.

Now over 12 years later, I can again share with you what horses mean to me. Yes, they are still big, fast, and beautiful animals – and I do enjoy braiding their tails. But to me, they are so much more than that. Horses are teachers, best friends, and one in a million partners. I wouldn’t trade them for the world. There is only one thing that makes me even happier then working with my own and that is sharing my passion with others. My goal is to help young cowboys and cowgirls discover everything these magnificent animals have to offer. I hope to help them to find not just the beautiful animal, but the partner, best friend, and teacher, all in one.

Lauren Hladik, Evergreen Rodeo Princess

I own two amazing horses, a 9 year old AQHA mare, Sugar and a 22 year old Thoroughbred gelding, Eddie.  I’ve lived on Pine Grove Ranch in Kittredge my whole life, so I’ve always been attached to my horses at the hip!  My Grandma, Nancy Hladik had my sister and I on horses since we were about 3 years old and I’ve been in love ever since.

My family has been involved with the Evergreen Rodeo Association since it was called the Bear Creek Rodeo Association.  My Grandma, Nancy Hladik was Mrs. Evergreen Rodeo in 1981 and the Evergreen Rodeo is something that my family always plans ahead for a year in advance!  I grew up there and always wanted to be a member of their Royalty.  I knew when I was crowned the 2015 Evergreen Rodeo Princess, I would be able to represent the Evergreen Rodeo, but as my year advanced, I realized that I am representing the rodeo that helped shape who I am today.  The Evergreen Rodeo has helped cultivate my love for rodeo, my hometown and my overall personality.

My sister and my parents would say I have definitely become more full of myself, ha-ha, but they would also agree with me that being royalty has helped me mature as a person.  I have learned to be punctual, more responsible and polite, while representing the Evergreen Rodeo.  These qualities have carried over into my personal life as well.  I have received compliments about my level of maturity, in the most random places, anywhere from my physical therapist office to my school!

Since I had the rare opportunity of being able to grow up on a ranch, I think having a connection with animals is extremely important as a young child.  It develops certain traits that you can’t learn any other way, such as responsibility, respect and millions of things about animals that helps expand your overall life knowledge.

Gabriella Otero, Evergreen Rodeo Junior Princess

This past year as the Evergreen Rodeo Junior Princess has been amazing.  Each event taught me more about the rodeo’s rich history and I was able to share my love for riding and horses. It is impressive how the rodeo association is able to dedicate their time and energy to the community of Evergreen, not just the rodeo and I was a part of that. Most importantly, I learned how to be confident around others and to do what was in their best interest.

I enjoyed meeting new people and going to new places. I never realized how many community events there are in Evergreen throughout the year. I had to build my stamina to help at each one and never lose my smile! I think my favorite was face painting. I cannot wait until rodeo weekend when the whole community comes together again and I can ride my horse in the parade. See you out there!

Join us Father’s Day Weekend!  Go to evergreenrodeo.com for more information on the Evergreen Rodeo Royalty and a complete schedule of events.