JOHN DAY – More than 185 people came to last Saturday’s Queen Coronation to support the youth representatives of the 2013 Grant County Fair and Rodeo.

The Feb. 16 event included a dinner, auction and dance in honor of this year’s fair and rodeo Queen Desiree Robison, Princess CheyAnne Maley, and youth Ambassadors Makaela Speakman and Sasha Juarez.

The celebration was all the more meaningful for Robison, who began her tenure with a tragic horse accident during the 2012 Grant County Rodeo. She was seriously injured when she fell from her horse during the opening event on Aug. 15. Her recovery has taken several months.

“At first I didn’t know if I was going to be able to ride again, but then I realized riding is my love and my life,” Robison recently said.

“It helped me so much that I was surrounded by people that loved and supported me every step of the way – it really helped me boost my confidence,” she added.

Robison rode in early February for the first time since the accident.

“It felt so great to get back on and ride again,” she said.

Robison, 16, is a junior at Monument High School. She is the daughter of Angie Robison and JC Strange, and lives with her grandparents Jeanne and Bruce Strange in Kimberly. Jeanne is the fair court advisor.

Maley, 17, lives in John Day and attends Grant Union Junior-Senior High School. She is the daughter of Deanna and Rocky Maley.

Both keep busy with school activities as well as fair events.

Robison is president of her school’s Flying Tigers club which is planning a trip to Thailand. She is also secretary of Monument School’s FFA chapter and is the junior class president.

She is taking her steer Tonka to the Eastern Oregon Livestock Show and another steer Rambo to the Grant County Fair.

Her sidekick Tex will accompany her at several fair events this year; a 12-year-old sorrel quarterhorse gelding, Robison says he’s a gentle “wonder horse,” as her grandfather calls him.

Maley also is involved in FFA, serving as chapter treasurer, and enjoys Parliamentary Procedure which involves debating skills. She is also a 4-H ambassador and enjoys fly tying.

At fair events Maley will ride her 13-year-old bay quarterhorse mare Chico.

“She is pretty well my best friend – she has helped me through a lot of difficult times,” Maley said.

She said the community will have a lot to enjoy at this year’s fair, including a view of all the state fair-qualifying projects and the animals which youth have put a lot of time and effort into raising. She noted that Grant County has one of the oldest continuous fairs in Oregon.

Robison says she is also looking forward to the 2013 fair and rodeo, and she’s shared ideas for greater safety at rodeo events.

“I think the public can look forward to a very fun, energetic and eventful fair and rodeo Aug. 8-10,” she said.

The ambassadors program, new this year, selects youngsters to be representatives of the fair and rodeo. Both boys and girls can apply for the program, and they are not required to ride horses. Juarez and Speakman are the first to hold the ambassador title.

Juarez, a John Day resident and sophomore at Grant Union, is the daughter of Wendy Juarez and Dan Mollash.

Speakman, of Canyon City, is a sophomore home schooled through Insight School of Oregon, and daughter of Shelly and Ken Speakman.

Both said they are happy to be representatives hope to get more youth involvement at the fair with more games available throughout each day of the fair.

Juarez said they hope to help out various causes throughout the county, even events that are not related to the fair and rodeo.

Stacey DeFord, coordinator for the youth programs, said the aim is to have them learn the dedication and commitment it takes to run a fair.

“We wanted to get that youth vibe back into the fair and rodeo,” she said.

She noted that many volunteers and donors made the coronation event a success.

“They all worked extremely hard to help us make a wonderful evening for our girls,” she said.


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