The 2016 Ponoka Stampede Queen, Jadey van der Vlis (left), will hand the reins over to the 2017 Stampede Queen Michele Greer (right) in May.

2017 Ponoka Stampede Queen from Ferintosh

Winner inspired by former rodeo queen

The 2017 Ponoka Stampede Queen set a trail for herself a few years ago that would lead her to the role.

Michele Greer, 23, from the Ferintosh area, won the contest earlier this week, competing against three other women for the role that will see her as an ambassador for one of the top professional rodeos in the world, as well as for the community.

She replaces 2016 queen Jadey van der Vlis, who is from the Leslieville area. The official crowning occurs at the annual World Professional Chuckwagon Association tarp auction on May 5.

Greer said horses and rodeo are a huge part of her life, and she describes herself as a first generation cowgirl.

She said rodeo has helped make her the person she is today. Born and raised in Alberta, she’s been involved with and loved horses as long as she can remember.

Greer was inspired after meeting Miss Rodeo Canada 2014, Nicole Briggs, and decided this might be something for her.

She began to build her skills and confidence and finally decided to apply for the Ponoka Stampede Queen role. She said she has worked a lot on her riding ability and public speaking.

On Wednesday, after a day of horsemanship, personal interviews with the selection committee, and a short modelling session, she was determined the winner.

“I was amazed. … It’s such an honour and privilege.”

She worked hard to write her own chapter in Alberta’s Western heritage, she said.

Greer is a student at University of Alberta’s Augustana campus in Camrose, taking her third year of a bachelor of Science in kinesiology.

She will attend a variety of different events in Ponoka, elsewhere in Alberta and even the United States, promoting the Ponoka rodeo and the sport in general.

Ponoka Stampede Queen committee member Bruce Harbin said the four women that applied were all extremely talented and highly capable individuals.

This is the 81st year for the Ponoka Stampede, which draws thousands of spectators and the top rodeo competitors every year.

The 2017 Ponoka Stampede opens June 27, and ends Monday July 3.

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