In the summer days you’ll find Julia Wickerath trail riding with her horse Cinderella through the rocky Central Washington hills. Her love for horses is what first drew her to the rodeo community.

This weekend, Wickerath took her passion for horses a step further by being crowned Queen of the 2019 Royal Court Coronation by the the Ellensburg Rodeo.

The Ellensburg Rodeo added a few new events this year including a written test, personal interview and a media interview. It also added a new panel of judges with varying backgrounds and expertise in the rodeo industry.

Wickerath is a 21-year-old Ellensburg High School graduate and is currently studying civil engineering with a minor in equine science at the University of Wyoming.

Wickerath was sitting at the Ellensburg Labor Day parade and watched the 2018 royal court ride by. This was the first time the thought of becoming queen crossed her mind. Wickerath knew if she didn’t try to compete in the pageant it would be something she’d regret.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do when I was younger, but I was busy showing in other horse circuits like 4-H and never had time,” she said. “At my age this is actually the last time I’d get the opportunity to run before I’d be too old.”

Wickerath watched her older sister Marisa compete in the 2011 royal court, but had never been in a pageant herself. This past memory sparked Wickerath’s interest and when she announced her decision to compete to her family her two older sisters rushed in to help guide and prep her through the process.

“I’ve always had my older sisters as examples,” Wickerath said. “They were so passionate about horses and they expected me to be up early and ready to clean our horses and go. They truly inspired me, I credit my horse obsession back to my older sisters pushing me to wake up early with them and become great riders like them.”

Wickerath feels most at home when she’s in her saddle, but looking back she thinks her strongest points in the competition were the moments she could show her personality. She especially liked the impromptu personal questions and thought she was able to show the judges her strength of being able to handle being put on the spot.

The Royal Court Coronation was a sold-out event and Wickerath recalled slowly watching the ballroom fill up with familiar faces.

“When it came time for people to be arriving I was just so excited, I could barely sit through dinner full with anticipation,” she said.

Wickerath believes that all the stars aligned for her to become queen, including for the first time the University of Wyoming starts school after Labor Day this fall. Wickerath will no longer be a bystander looking in on the celebration and can’t wait to walk alongside her fellow court members on Labor Day.

“Our community is small, but very strong and we take pride in our beautiful land,” she said. “I didn’t quite appreciate our surroundings until I moved to away for college. Wyoming is a beautiful state but it doesn’t have as nearly as many mountains, trees and water as we do here.”

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