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Two young riders to compete for the title of Estevan Rodeo Queen

Revamped after long years of a break during this weekend will be the Rodeo Queens contest, which will see two young participants competing for the title.
Estevan Rodeo Queens
Rykelle Holinaty, left, and Breanna Fichter

ESTEVAN - The Energy City Ex Fair and Rodeo is kicking off on Thursday to bring a lot of excitement to Estevan.

Revamped after long years of a break will be the Rodeo Queens contest, which will see two young participants competing for the title.

Rhonda Gillespie with the Estevan Exhibition Association said they were happy to bring this piece back, as it has a lot of value for the city, the association and the community.

"This is the first time that we've brought it back after a very long hiatus. It's kind of a break into it again to get everybody back excited," Gillespie said.

"The idea with the queen contest is to promote an ambassador for the Estevan Exhibition Association. As well, in conjunction with the city of Estevan we want our rodeo queen to be visiting vendors, different community organizations that are hosting events and just making a presence and promoting the Estevan Exhibition with what we have as well and helping to promote anything that's going on within the city."

Besides, the queen will set an example for future generations of kids involved with rodeos and the lifestyle.

The contest consists of four aspects that the participants are judged on. They will have to make a speech on something they are passionate about, which will be on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. after the parade. They will also be judged on their horsemanship patterns.

Then on Friday night during the Kids' Rodeo, the girls will be out helping the young participants, trying to be the face of the rodeo and introducing themselves to people. In that aspect, their social skills will be judged as well. The fourth part of the contest will be 50/50 ticket sales. Each candidate will get a point for each ticket that they sell. The maximum winning for the 50/50 draw will be $2,500.

The crowning of the 2022 Rodeo Queen will take place on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at the rodeo arena. And then rodeo queen will be carrying the flag for the grand entry of the KCRA performance at 5 p.m.

On top of the title, the queen will receive a scholarship the EEA put up for an award. The winner will also receive a keepsake belt buckle, which has been sponsored, and will have the crown for a year, after which she will have to pass it on to the incoming queen at the next rodeo. And there is more.

"There's quite a few donations of prizes for different categories. There's the People's Choice Award. So the public is able to vote, they will have to find the table that is promoting the girls and they can put their ballots in the box and vote on the one that they think would be the best ambassador for the city of Estevan and the Estevan Exhibition Association," Gillespie said.

And now is the time to meet the contestants.

Breanna Fichter

Breanna Fichter has been watching rodeos since she was a little kid. When she was about eight years old, she set her mind on becoming a barrel racer. Since then, she's been working on her dream.

She's heard about rodeo queens before, and once the EEA decided to offer one this year, she decided to participate.

"It just seems like something that would be really nice, because a lot of little kids do look up to me, especially with barrel racing and stuff. So it'd be nice [to do it] for them," Fichter said.

Fichter grew up on a family farm just outside of Lampman. She said her grandfather was so big into horses that the family calls him the horse whisperer. He raised Fichter into horses and riding. She started at 4-H Club, with her mother and father being her biggest supporters, helping her with everything. She picked a horse and started learning. She's been taking lessons for years, and now she is participating in the rodeo herself.

"I'm here today and it's mind-blowing to me," Fichter shared.

She said she's always loved challenges, so participating in the contest just added to the excitement of the rodeo, in which she will also be barrel racing and steer riding. The latter will be the most challenging for her this year.

Ahead of the big weekend, Fichter lauded people for bringing the fair and rodeo to Estevan.

"I want to thank everyone who has put this rodeo together. It's going to be amazing … I hope everybody shows up because it's going to be a really fun weekend," Fichter said.


Rykelle Holinaty

Rykelle Holinaty got into horses growing up.

She was born and raised in Estevan, and as she was always around horses, she rode a lot as a kid, but nothing competitive until a bit later in life.

"I got into high school, and this is when Valerie Paulson came in and took me under her wing, introduced me to the world of riding and competition and really helped me with my passion for riding and furthering my abilities and skills. And that's where I am today, mainly because of her competition-wise," Holinaty shared. 

Holinaty barrel races and is working on getting into cow horse competitions now.

After graduation from the ECS, Holinaty got into Vermillion, Alta., for the veterinary technician program. Now that she's completed the first year of school, she came home for a break. After the second year is in the books, she plans to specialize in equine medicine, massage and therapy. She is currently working at the Estevan Prairie Animal Health Centre.

When Gillespie and Paulson told her about the queen contest it was a no-brainer for her to join. 

“It's a community thing. It's also a fundraiser for the exhibition, which is a great organization," Holinaty said. "I've been trying to get to all corners of the horse world in my life and to get the experience. Any experience is a great experience, in my opinion, whether it's bad or good, you take something away from it. And so, I thought this would just be a great thing to do to build my character."

Holinaty will also be barrel racing during the weekend, and excitement ahead of the contest and competition was definitely there.

"It's intimidating for sure. This is the first time I'm really doing anything big, this big in my own hometown. It's the first time that a majority of people sitting in the stands are going to know me. It's really intimidating. But … I'm getting my practice in as much as I can. And I'm going to try and prepare myself as good as possible," Holinaty said.

While she was getting ready to try claiming some titles, she also wanted to inspire the riders to come by her own example.

"Nothing came to me easily in the horse world, I had to work for a lot. And it was a lot of work. And I just want to put a message out there for all the younger girls, like me when I was sitting in the stands when I was young, growing up thinking that I wanted to do that. I just want to leave a message for all those girls - you can do anything that you put your heart to. As long as you work for it and follow your dreams, you'll get there someday. I did it and I still can't believe it some days," Holinaty said.