Airdrie Pro Rodeo names 2012-2013 royalty
A pair of northern girls claimed the crowns this year at the Airdrie Pro Rodeo’s royalty pageant, July 1. Nicole Briggs, 20, of Gibbons, Alta. was named queen, while Samantha Bilsborrow, also 20, of Leduc, Alta. was named princess.
“I’m very excited,” Briggs said. “It’s always been a dream for the past few years to represent a professional rodeo and to do it here in Airdrie, I feel honoured.”
The Airdrie pageant is the second that Briggs has competed in, as she won the title of the Alberta High School Rodeo Association queen in 2008. She is a leader with the Gibbons 4-H Light Horse Club after being involved with the group for 10 years and competes with the Canadian Intercollegiate Rodeo Association in barrel racing, pole bending, breakaway roping, team roping and goat tying. She said that being involved in a previous pageant helped quell her nerves while she was vying for the Airdrie title.
“It helped a lot,” she said. “I was really nervous the first time I did a pageant and coming here, I felt a lot more relaxed. Everyone helped by making me feel at home and relaxed in front of the judges and even mingling with the community. It’s been great.”
Briggs is currently working on getting her degree in Food Animal Health at the University of Alberta, and she hopes to move on to get a degree in Veterinary Medicine.
Her sidekick for the year will be Bilsborrow, who made her pageant debut in Airdrie. Like Briggs, she grew up around rodeos, having previously competed in the Leduc Black Gold Rodeo, the Wetaskiwin Rawhide Rodeo, the Ponoka Stampede, the Strathmore Stampede and the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR). She said the experience was staggering and that she is looking forward to working with Briggs.
“It was definitely eye-opening,” she said. “It takes a lot of work to be a rodeo queen, and I didn’t expect it. I’m starting to get into the groove a bit, but at the end of the year I can’t wait to see what I’m like.”
“(Nicole and I) get along and we know a lot of the same people. She’s going to be a fantastic queen, and it should be like two good friends going down the road together.”
For the 2011 Airdrie Rodeo Royalty, Gillian Shields and Rebecca McKay, the weekend was a mixture of sadness and excitement as they reflected on the year they spent together touring Alberta and beyond.
“Rebecca and I had an amazing year,” said Shields, the outgoing queen. “I can’t even put it into words. We had so much fun and we were a real team. We enjoyed getting to this community, helping out and volunteering.”
“Gillian and I really wanted to step it up this year for Airdrie, and I felt like we did,” McKay added. “We really wanted to make it better and experience everything we could with it because Airdrie’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance. We wanted to take as much as we could out of it and give back as much as we could to the community.”
The duo set a record for events attended by the Airdrie Rodeo Royalty, attending more than 170 events around the province, but both cited the Pro Rodeo as their favourite event. However, it isn’t the end of the road for either Shields or McKay. Shields will be competing for Miss Rodeo Canada at the CFR in November, while McKay will be running for in the Calgary Stampede royalty pageant starting in September.
Both are confident their successors will have as fun a year as they did.