Rodeo Royalty

The 2020 candidates for the Ellensburg Rodeo Royal Court are, from left, Clara Van Orman, Cora Clift, Abbey Roberts, Ellie Dyk and Jordyn Arlt.

The selection process is a self fact-finding tour that will last a lifetime for the five young women involved, and the excitement is building as they move into the final stage at the Ellensburg Rodeo Royal Court Coronation Banquet Jan. 25 where the queen and princesses will be selected.

The Royal Court Coronation is the culminating event to the four-month process and will feature a series of challenges including speeches, impromptu questioning, modeling prior to the crowning of the new face of the Ellensburg Rodeo.

“These girls are well rounded in rodeo knowledge, knowledge about our rodeo and current events because they are the face of the rodeo,” said Julie Virden, who became the first woman named to the Ellensburg Rodeo Board of Directors in the 97-year history.

“The process started on Oct. 19 and we’ll finish up on Jan. 25. The girls will give a speech, model and they will be asked an impromptu question. The scores will be tallied and we’ll announce the winner that night.”

The night will be a changing of the guard of sorts. The 2019 queen Julia Wickerath and her princesses Gracie Loen and Emilee Myers will hand off their duties and experiences to the new court, which will carry on the proud tradition of the Ellensburg Rodeo.

The 2020 contestants include Kittitas County residents Clara Van Orman, Cora Clift, Abbey Roberts, Ellie Dyk and Jordyn Arlt. The five judges will narrow that group to three to represent Ellensburg during the rodeo season.

“They do a number community events, anywhere from Seattle, Spokane, Wenatchee, Olympia. The girls went Sisters (Ore,) last year. They’ll go to Moses Lake, Omak, so they do a lot of traveling,” Virden said. “It is an honor and a responsibility, and it is definitely a job.

“They’ll do anything from participating in a parade or a grand entry. They may have an autograph signing or visit a retirement center. They do all kinds of things promoting the rodeo.”

Not everyone gets to ride their horse through the streets of Seattle with the Space Needle in the not-so-faraway distance or bring in the Ellensburg banner into the rodeo grounds in some of the most prestigious rodeos in the Pacific Northwest. They truly are the face of the Ellensburg Rodeo, which is going into its 97th year.

Only three will be named to the Ellensburg Royal Court, but the experience will last a lifetime Virden said.

“A girl can go on and compete for Miss Rodeo Washington or Miss Rodeo America, so we are giving them a basis to start from,” she said. “Even if they don’t win, they learn so much. Here they are sitting in front of five judges, so when they go for a job interview they have confidence and experience handling situations.

“It’s amazing what it can do for the confidence of a young lady just being here.”

Ellensburg Rodeo Royal Court Coronation Banquet is open to the general public and tickets can be purchased at the ticket office.

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