Rodeo Royal Court

The Ellensburg Rodeo Royal Court, from left, princess Emilee Myers, queen Julia Wickerath, and princess Gracie Loen have been traveling through Washington and Oregon representing the rodeo and Kittitas County Fair since April.

To see them during the week in blue jeans and T-shirts, ball cap pulled down tight, proudly holding their Ellensburg Rodeo saddles and tack with the aroma of rawhide filling the room is a little like Cinderella before the ball. But they do dress up nice.

Anyway you look at ‘em, if these three young women are the only people from Ellensburg the world will ever meet, the community is well represented with their efforts as Ambassadors of the Burg, promoting one of the greatest rodeos on the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association circuit, and the Kittitas County Fair.

The 2019 Ellensburg Royal Court featuring queen Julia Wickerath and princesses Gracie Loen and Emilee Myers were crowned in January and they’ve been on the move ever since with rodeo stops, as well as parades and community events across Washington state and Oregon. They finally come home and they’ll showcase their riding skills before the Ellensburg Rodeo friends and family this Labor Day weekend.

“I think I was pretty much prepared for the travel and work, but the early mornings and the late nights were a little surprising. But it was all worth it,” said 22-year-old Wickerath, who is the daughter of Jim and Lauren Wickerath. “But what we do is not just talking about the rodeo or fair, we talked to people about the agriculture industry.

“The more people we can educate them about why we still raise cattle, or why we ride horses the better off we are in raising awareness about things that are important to us here in the Kittitas Valley. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”

They were burning the midnight oil and the diesel fuel traveling from April to September with stops at rodeos at Sisters, Ore., Toppenish, Cle Elum, Omak, Moses Lake, Kennewick and finally Ellensburg.

“It’s been amazing to see all the things that go into making this possible. There’s been directors organizing everything and others making contributions that make things run smoothly,” said Myers, who is the 19-year-old daughter Matt and Holly Myers. “The travel schedule was an eye-opener a little bit. Here I was all excited to be at our rodeo, and I look down the schedule and it’s the very last one. But I did enjoy every minute of it.”

At 18, Loen is the youngest of the three, but the 2019 Ellensburg High School graduate stepped up in her responsibilities and commitment to her town and its rodeo and county fair.

“This has always been a dream of mine since I was a little girl,” said Loen, who is the daughter of Donny and Christine Loen. “I’ve always looked up to the previous queens and princesses growing up. So I expected all of the long nights, the rodeos, talking to the kids and the mingling.

“I grew up 4-H. I like the farm, I love the animals and the way of life we have here in Ellensburg.”

Like Loen, they all grew up with 4-H and horses, living in the country. They saw their share of the Pacific Northwest during their travels, and stowed away their individual memories along the way.

“I’ve always liked being around people, so this was a chance to meet new people and hear their stories,” said Wickerath, who is studying civil engineering at the University of Wyoming. “I had a chance to go down to Colorado Springs and visit the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame last year, so to add this experience to that is pretty special.”

Said Myers, “Probably one of my favorite rodeos was the Omak Stampede,” the 2018 Ellensburg High School graduate said. “Oh my gosh, we didn’t even go to the top of the hill where they Suicide Race (down a 62-percent slope for 225 feet to the Okanogan River). We were looking from the bottom to the top and it was so overwhelming I can’t even imagine riding down at full speed.”

Traveling into Oregon for the Sisters Rodeo was a highlight for Loen, she said.

“Sisters is definitely a spot that I will go back to next year,” she said. “I’ve been going to rodeos ever since I was little, but the rodeo was great an the town is so beautiful. The rodeo is small, homey and they make you feel welcome.”

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