As a young girl, Amanda Longoni always looked up to the rodeo queens and princesses.
“Honestly, I don’t know if I ever saw myself being a rodeo queen,” she said. “I know I wished I could.”
That wish came true last year when Longoni was named queen of the Vale 4th of July Rodeo. She has represented the community for the past year, and her reign will culminate at the rodeo on July 4, when her successor is named.
Born in Argentina, Longoni moved to Ontario with her parents when she was 4.
Every year she and her family would watch the Vale 4th of July Parade from her grandparents Bill and Sharon Lawrence’s front yard. Later in the day, they would go to the rodeo.
Longoni, 18, said she’s wanted to ride horses for as long as she can remember.
“I’ve got pictures of me as a baby on horses,” she said.
Growing up in Malheur County, Longoni had many friends who would ride, and she would go with them. When she got into 4-H, she began taking weekly lessons.
By 15, she had worked and saved enough money to buy her first horse, Emmy, an older mare now retired.
Her dad, Daniel, a real estate agent and homebuilder, runs a “hobby farm” at their place. Her mother, Heather, homeschools her three younger brothers, while her brother Gino attends Vale High School.
She said her parents were “in shock” when she won the Vale rodeo queen title.
“They were super proud,” she said. “I know that my mom started crying.”
She’s also found support from the family of Brogan Bair, last year’s rodeo queen, who are lending Longoni the horse she will ride for her grand entry: Turbo, a gelding.
Longoni said she has always known she wanted to work with horses, a goal that prompted her to enter Treasure Valley Community College’s horse training program last year.
In addition to attending college and working at D & B Supply in Ontario as a cashier, Longoni has kept a busy schedule as queen. That role includes making appearances at parades, rodeos and community events.
Longoni said most of her hobbies and interests involve horses. She said she enjoys being active, working out at the gym and spending time with her friends when she is not doing something with horses.
Longoni said she was somewhat shy and introverted before earning the tiara, but her time as queen has given her confidence that carries into other areas of her life.
She said she encourages other young ladies to compete for the crown.
“It teaches you so much to be a rodeo queen. “It gives you so much confidence with public speaking and being good in talking to others. It’s a great life experience because you learn so much that you can take throughout your life.”
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