Like other rodeo performers, fair and rodeo royalty would be busy appearing at fairs, rodeos and parades across the country if not for COVID-19.

Kelsei Kiser, Grant County Fair and Rodeo Queen, said this is her third title, and in a typical year, she attends 30 rodeos in the summer.

“It’s a lot of fun,” she said. “Sometimes we do several in a weekend, especially during the Fourth of July. It’s called Cowboy Christmas because more rodeos are going on that week than any other week in the United States.”

Kiser said she thinks people are really excited to finally get together for the fair and rodeo this year.

“This made it so much more valuable for people to come together with friends and family,” Kiser said.

Katelyn Barker, 16, of Dayville, crowned the fair’s rodeo princess in September, said Friday had been one of the first events in which she could participate in nearly a year.

“Before we went in, we were both having major butterflies,” she said, “but it was nice to have the arena dirt under our hooves and see familiar faces.”

Barker said she grew up going to rodeos and it is “the sport she loves.” She always wanted to be a part of a rodeo. Being crowned Grant County’s Fair and Rodeo Princess was exciting for the Dayville rodeo princess.

“Since I was a kid, I’ve always watched rodeos,” she said. “The rodeos always amazed me, just the marking horses, the rough stock, the dirt in the air that you can smell and the exhilaration you feel when you hear the buzzer after an 8-second ride.”

Barker said she hopes to be a “role model” for other young women.

“I want to empower younger girls and show that you can do anything that you set your mind to,” Barker said.

Kiser said livestock families are people who do not usually get together except for the county fair or rodeo, so, she said, it is a “big deal” when they do.

“It’s so great to see everyone finally come together,” she said.

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Steven Mitchell is a reporter for the Blue Mountain Eagle. Contact him at steven@bmeagle.com or 541-575-0710.

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