• Alicia Erickson

November 2019- Jaden Holle



November was an emotional month with the end of the Canadian Finals Rodeo and the beginning of my good byes!

Halfway through the month, it was time for me to say good-bye to my travelling partner, my 2019 Dodge Ram Truck. She and I spent many hours together, spanning three provinces and travelling to dozens of rodeos.

While I struggled to drive a big truck through the streets of downtown Calgary at the beginning, I soon felt there was no road we couldn’t conquer. I became quite fond of the huge touchscreen, crisp back up camera, and spacious crew cab. She truly made me feel like a “Queen of the Road.” Thank you so much to Innisfail Chrysler for your generous sponsorship of my vehicle this year.

Next, I headed to Stavely for a very special fundraiser. Don Mills is an old family friend and very avid rodeo supporter. “Donny Dodge” gained his nickname for his work as a salesman at High River Chrysler where his office is wallpapered with rodeo athletes past and present. He is never too busy for a chat and is always eager to offer support in whatever way he can.

When Don Mills contracted a severe case of the West Nile Virus, it was our turn to return the support he has shown us. On November 22, a silent auction and dance was held at the Stavely Hall. I was pleased to participate in a fashion show put on by Cowboy Country in Nanton along with several other young members of the rodeo community that Don has supported. Each of us wore an item to be auctioned off and all proceeds from the evening went to Don’s recovery efforts. Don himself was able to take a night off from rehab at Foothills Hospital to join us for the evening. It was great to see Don in such great spirits and the rodeo community band together.

My next stop was to the Alberta Children’s Hospital where I spent the afternoon in the art studio. It is always inspiring to see kids just be kids, no matter what they are facing. I helped the children make Christmas cards and ornaments and we all agreed that you could never have too much glitter! My afternoon was an important reminder that just showing up can make someone’s day.

Where else should a queen go for her last Canadian rodeo than the Queen City itself! On November 27th, I hopped on a plane to Regina for the first ever Maple Leaf Circuit Finals Rodeo. This was the inaugural year for the Maple Leaf Circuit, a partnership between the CPRA, PRCA and the WPRA, which included rodeos with $7999 or less in added money.

Over four performances, the circuit’s top ten competitors from each event vied to be the first Maple Leaf Circuit Finals Champion and the chance to attend the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo in Kissimmee, Florida.

Of all the rodeos I go to, I always enjoy those with multiple go-rounds where I get to know committees a little better and see the contestants ease into their week. As I walked through the Brandt centre, my heart was warmed with the sights of so many familiar faces. I was reminiscent of the beginning of my reign, where each room I walked in was a room filled with strangers. I have said it multiple times, yet it still rings true: I am so grateful for the people that have become like family over this past year.

As the Maple Leaf Circuit Finals Rodeo is held alongside Agribition, which attracts visitors from across the globe, I was pleased to greet many new faces as well. Throughout the week I was able to practice my Spanish with some Mexican visitors, complete an interview in French for Radio Canada, and even made the morning news with CTV Regina.

Another highlight? Reconnecting with Amber Marshall after meeting her at the LaDue Ladies luncheon earlier this year. As a High River girl, any chance to meet with a star of Heartland is a memorable one.

At the rodeo itself, I helped our “Wild Wool Riders” each night, which was a highlight to see our up and coming rodeo stars do their thing and try not to shed any tears in the process! The final night of the rodeo, I thought I would carry on the tradition from Pile O’ Bones where I helped untie calves in the tie-down roping.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t get emotional on the last day of the rodeo, as I realized I would not be seeing many of the contestants until I attend a rodeo as a “regular” fan in the spring. I realized I would not ride into another Canadian arena as Miss Rodeo Canada and that although I will always have a place in the rodeo family, that role is imminently changing.

I tried to freeze time as I rode into that arena on the last day, scanning the crowd, hearing the music, and feeling the gentle gait of the palomino beneath me. It has been one of the greatest honours to carry our Canadian flag, and it is not one that I take lightly. Those are moments I will never forget.

Thank you to Wade Rempel for lending me Dexter for my final rides. (He even let me put glitter on him, even though he used him during the bull riding each night!)

My other great honour, of course, is helping present awards to the contestants after all their hard work.

Congratulations to these winners:

Aggregate Champions of the Maple Leaf Circuit Finals:

Brooke Wills (Barrel Racing)

Cole Goodine (Bareback)

Kolby Wanchuk (Saddle Bronc)

Cody Cassidy (Steer Wrestling)

Jesse Popescul (Tie-down)

Jacob Gardner (Bull Riding)

Riley Warren (Team Roping)

Clay Ullery (Team Roping)

Overall Maple Leaf Circuit Winners:

Ky Marshall (Bareback)

Ben Anderson (Saddle Bronc)

Kyle Brown (Bull Riding)

Layne Delemont (Steer Wrestling)

Keely Bonnett (Team Roping)

Logan Bonnett (Team Roping)

Blair Smith (Tie-down)

Brooke Wills (Barrel Racing)

Canada, it has been one heck of a ride. Next stop…VEGAS!

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