Sage Nelson of Youngstown, Ab. is no stranger to the western way of life.
The 20-year-old has embraced her upbringing by becoming a rancher among the native prairie of the Special Areas.
While doing this, Nelson has made the decision to put her name forward in the race for Miss Rodeo Canada, the highest title one can receive in the Canadian rodeo royalty world.
A total of six women will be competing for the title; four from Alberta, one from Manitoba, and one from Ontario.
East Central Alberta has produced two deserving candidates including Nelson and Alicia Erickson of Trochu.
The winner will be announced during the Canadian Finals Rodeo in Red Deer at the end of October.
Nelson got her start in rodeo by becoming a wild pony racer on the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association (CPRA) circuit. From there she joined the Calgary Stampede Showriders for a couple of years.
“That really opened my eyes to the world of royalty so at the end of my second year I decided to run for Hanna Pro Rodeo Queen and I ended up winning the title,” began Nelson.
A large portion of being a rodeo queen is establishing connections which Nelson found to be a huge benefit to her reign along with promoting western heritage.
Her favourite moment of being Hanna’s Pro Rodeo Queen was the feeling of going into an arena of familiar faces to promote something special.
“My hometown rodeo, Hanna, getting to ride into the arena and seeing most of the people in the stands that you know and you grew up with is really, really cool,” said Nelson.
Nelson has taken part in a number of rodeo traditions during her time as queen.
“There has been a lot, so anything from the people you meet, you know you get the opportunities to meet competitors so I have met a few people on the horse side of things which opened my eyes to a lot of stuff. I’ve had the opportunity to ride with some of them.
“All of the people behind the scenes as well. I’m a committee member on the Hanna Pro Rodeo now so I’m a part of that so that was really cool. On the speciality act side too like back when I was a pony racer, like rodeo in general – once you start, there is countless opportunities to go from there,” said Nelson.
It was a plan to pursue Miss Rodeo Canada since she first was crowned but decided it was best to take a year off in preparation.
“It’s coming up so quickly, I am so excited.”
Current Drumheller-Stettler riding MLA Rick Strankman gave Nelson a commendation through the Alberta Government.
She hopes to become a paramedic one day, beginning her studies in January in either Edmonton or St. Albert.
Aside from schooling, Nelson will always hold rodeo near and dear to her heart.
“Rodeo-wise, I am probably going to be with it for the rest of my life. I love the atmosphere around it and it’s something that I want to continue on with,” Nelson said.
For anyone interested in running for rodeo royalty, Nelson encourages an honest and true personality.
“You got to be yourself, you’ve got to be genuine, you have to be open to new opportunities but most importantly be yourself and don’t be afraid to show your personality,” said Nelson.