East Central Alberta has yielded two worthy Miss Rodeo Canada contestants after the announcement was made on Mon. Sept. 10.
Alicia Erickson of Trochu and Sage Nelson of Youngstown have tossed their hats in the ring for the chance of being crowned Miss Rodeo Canada.
Erickson admits to starting later in life when it comes to rodeo royalty. That hasn’t stopped her determination to try.
Each goal has come with ample rewards for the 22-year-old. The most recent gaining the Miss Ponoka Stampede title – her favourite rodeo since embracing the western way of life.
“I didn’t exactly grow up with a western background. I always loved horses and I always loved the western culture and lifestyle but I didn’t really know what it was all about and it actually happened to be – I was learning how to barrel race from a lady in Stettler named Christy Andersen. She sent me a link to the Carstairs Rodeo Royalty Program and that’s just an amateur rodeo,” said Erickson.
“I’ve loved the western part but I’ve also loved the glamming up and the sparkles, and you know, those girls riding so confidently with their sparkly crowns so I thought ‘You know what, this is a great chance. I’m going to see what it’s all about’.”
Erickson found another girl named Katie Lucas on Facebook who had already won the Carstairs Rodeo title and Canadian High School Rodeo Queen title, instantly making a connection to find out more about what it takes to wear the crown.
She was invited to the former rodeo queen’s home where she was instantly taken under the veteran’s wing.
“Well, I left there that day with my truck full of clothes and hats and boots and so much stuff and so much information. She just took me under her wing and taught me what it was all about so it was really cool. We built a really good friendship off of that. She’s been a great mentor and a great guide for me to learn from,” Erickson continued.
She eventually ran for the Carstairs competition which she won.
She loved it so much she decided to do it again only to compete at the Hanna Pro Rodeo competition.
After winning that title, she set her sights on the Ponoka Stampede, the annual rodeo that hosts more than 80,000 people per year.
“Out of all the rodeos I have ever watched, the Ponoka Stampede gave me a feeling like no other. It made me feel like I was there and the people were nice and kind and the cowboys wanted you to learn and see what their lifestyle was all about. That to me was so great.”
Erickson prepared all winter of 2017/2018 for the chance to finally compete at the prestigious rodeo. She often switched between studying for school and studying for rodeo royalty.
She won the title earlier this year in April with the realization that she could now run for Miss Rodeo Canada.
“Two huge goals of mine had been accomplished so it was kind of a surreal feeling because holding this crown is more than just a symbol of a princess or a queen, it’s getting to actually educate people and something I am most passionate about is youth,” said Erickson.
The contestant recently finished her Youth Justice Studies Diploma from Bow Valley College in Calgary.
She currently works in Elnora, Ab. as a coach for the Learn to Skate Program throughout the fall and winter months as well as work at Winther Horses near the Hamlet of Huxley.
A passion she found was through her diploma, ultimately moving forward with the goal of becoming a social worker by obtaining a social work degree or master’s degree.
Erickson said “So that is something I am very passionate about. I’m all about giving back to people and just like me if I ask for help with something that I want to pursue, I want to be able to be that person when they ask for help.
“That’s something that has defined me as a person and a quote I really love is ‘Be the person you needed when you were younger’ and so I look at that and I look at who I needed when I was younger thinking I want to be that person,” said Erickson.
She also wishes to continue her passion for the western culture by pursuing equine hobbies like barrel racing and roping.
A highlight of being queen for Erickson was the compassion and humble approach to education for the sport of rodeo.
“Not all people are going to fall in love with the sport of rodeo or the western way of life like I do but to try and see those people that do is one of the most rewarding feelings.”