In the community

Camaraderie reigns en route to choice for Vale’s next rodeo queen

Rodeo Queen Brogan Bair provided plenty of smiles, laughs, and tears at the Vale Rodeo queen luncheon.

Bair, the 2022 queen, was joined at the luncheon on Monday, July 4, by her mom and dad, people from the Vale community, and the judges for the contest to pick her successor.

Darby Justus, one of the judges, said it was a “fantastic lineup of girls and a really tight competition.”

Justus has been a rodeo queen herself and noted the tight-knit community that Bair built with the contestants, making sure that each of them felt supported in the competition.  

Contestants Taylor Hack, Margie Rich, and Amanda Longoni appeared frequently at the rodeo competitions and events. Rich spoke at the Grand Marshal’s BBQ on June 29, and with Bair competed in the July 4 barrel racing.

“We were excited to have three girls come out and try out. I’m glad we could offer a saddle and category prizes,” said Justus. “It’s a small town but Vale is such a welcoming community all around. There’s a feeling of kindness ­– people on the board, in the stands, on the chutes.”

The path to 2023 Vale 4th of July Rodeo queen isn’t easy. Contestants are judged in categories such as horsemanship, public interaction, rodeo knowledge, and appearance.

Heather Madden, another judge and owner of Reload Out West Outdoors, sponsored the rodeo queen this year with a gift basket, sash and new saddle for the appearances the new queen will make over the coming year.

“It was exciting to watch all these great girls compete, it was great to sponsor the saddle. Reload hadn’t done that before,” said Madden.

During the second day of the rodeo, Bair said the energy was “awesome” and she was “looking forward to finding out who the new queen would be.”

Bair had a busy year, attending rodeos from Nampa to Nyssa, and was sad to say farewell.

When it came time to announce the new winner, Justus, Madden and judge Butch Mowdy announced Longoni as the 2023 Vale 4th of July Rodeo queen. Longoni is a student at Treasure Valley Community College in Wade Black’s equine science program, where she’s studying for a career raising and training horses.

“She was very well-rounded in all areas of the competition, and she was very willing to learn. She was very adamant to come after each rodeo to ask me and Heather ‘what can I do better,’” said Justus.

Longoni’s first public appearance as the 2023 queen will be at the Snake River Stampede, the weekend of July 19.

“As rodeo queens and future rodeo queens, we represent the American flag and each and every rodeo,” said Longoni in her speech at the queen’s luncheon. “The word rodeo comes from the Spanish word rodeo which roughly translates in English to mean roundup, which is the perfect word for this Western sport. Rodeos bring together the community, which is my favorite part about them.”

The community and camaraderie of the group was evident as each contestant cheered for the others during the rodeo and competitions. Hack even provided an extra horse when a fellow contestant’s companion was sick during the rodeo.

Justus said the camaraderie of fellow rodeo queens and rodeo queen contestants is what makes this form of competition special. “They were just really kind to each other,” said Justus. “There’s a saying for rodeo queens: We just fix each other’s crowns.”

Margie Rich, Taylor Hack, and Amanda Longoni watch a video at the Queen’s Luncheon on July 4, 2022. (The Enterprise/MAC LARSEN/)

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