Vale Rodeo Queen Brogan rides out her reign with glitter, flowers and one fast horse

Brogan Bair rides into the arena in July 2021, after being named the new Vale 4th of July Rodeo queen. Her reign ends when her successor is named at the rodeo on July 4, 2022. (The Enterprise/FILE)

Brogan Bair, the current Vale 4th of July Rodeo queen, came to the role naturally.

“I’ve been interested in horses my entire life,” she said.

A Vale native, she grew up on the family spread, with three brothers, a lot of livestock and a love of the ranching life.

Her dad, Rob, is an Owyhee Irrigation District ditch rider, raises purebred Hereford cattle and is a certified farrier and volunteer EMT – “in his spare time,” she quipped. Her mother, Darla, works for the state Employment Department, and is an avid horsewoman and supporter of her daughter’s rodeo activities.

As a little girl, Brogan loved to see the rodeo queens ride in the parade, with all their glitter and floral displays.

“I thought they were like angels,” she said.

She wanted to be rodeo royalty, too.

Then, in school, she got involved in 4-H and began aspiring to have a career with horses. After graduating from Vale High School in 2017, she attended Treasure Valley Community College for two years, studying in the equine science and horse production program.

In 2018, she set her sights on the Vale rodeo queen title. There were eight contenders that year, and while she didn’t get queen, she was named first runner-up.

The next year, she tried out for Nyssa Nite Rodeo queen, and won that title.

She set rodeo aside the following year, traveling to Georgia on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The mission coincidentally took her to Perry, Georgia, a town famed for barrel racing competitions, but she didn’t get to enjoy that part of the scene as the Covid pandemic shut down activities.

The change of scene and world events didn’t dampen her ambition for the royal role in her hometown.

Back in Vale, she tried again for the tiara and sash at age 22 – her last year of eligibility – and won, becoming the 2022 Vale 4th of July Rodeo queen.

Brogan Bair smiles in a portrait from the Vale 4th of July Rodeo Queen page on Facebook, where she has chronicled her activities throughout the year. (Photo courtesy of Brogan Bair)

Now 23, she’s wrapping up a whirlwind year of parades, rodeos, and community appearances. The experience has been great, she said.

“I love getting to travel with my horse, and getting to represent Vale at the parades and events,” she said.

Recalling her childhood fascination with the queens and their finery, she said, “my mom and I, we make sure we go all out” with flowers and glitter just about everywhere as she makes her official appearances.

Along with support from her family, she credits her horse, Journey, and his repertoire of tricks for helping her success as a rodeo queen.

“He can dance like the Spanish horses, and rear on cue,” she said.

In the grand entries, he likes to run full speed and take her whisper-close to the rail – a thrill for both the rider and spectators.

“He just loves to perform,” she said.

The horse gets all that from Brogan, who noted that “trick riding is kind of my thing.” She taught him the moves that draw so much attention on parade routes.

“He’s one of the horses I was raised with,” and has been in the family for about 15 years, she said.

Their teamwork blossomed out of a disappointment of sorts. Brogan said when she was 13, she wanted a pony – but her parents said no.

Undaunted, she decided to work with one of the horses at home: Journey. Started by her mom, the horse took to the advanced training and became a crowd-pleaser, Brogan said.

In Pendleton last fall, she said, Journey reared up and the Round-Up fans went wild, calling out “Let ’er buck!”

Brogan said Journey likely will get to retire after this year’s rodeo.

Meantime, she’s making plans for her own future.

As a volunteer for Malheur County 4-H, she and another former Vale queen, Bo Bourasa, are superintendents for the Malheur County Ranch Horse program. They teach weekly clinics on  ranch horse skills – “working cows, keeping cattle and horses and everybody safe, to better serve the industry.”

Brogan works for D & B Supply in Ontario and would like to go into management with the company. She also wants to have her own stud farm and raise horses.

For starters, she already has a young stallion, Dude, and is working on his training.

She wants to continue supporting the Vale rodeo and might even do some barrel racing, although she notes her available horses are either too old or too young for the sport.

As the next Vale rodeo nears, Queen Brogan and Journey aren’t slowing down. They’ll be heading for rodeos in Eagle, Idaho, Sisters, and Nyssa before she gives up her crown to a new queen at the rodeo grounds on July 4.

“I’m super-excited to have had my rodeo time, and it will be fun to see those who follow,” she said. “I hope I have inspired others.”

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