Area resident takes queen title in Shrine rodeo
The question judges asked pageant winner Julie Carden might have stumped other title hopefuls. But Julie Carden had no trouble answering the question, "What is the oldest sport in rodeo?"
"It's saddle bunk riding, because that's what the cowboys would have done," she said.
The Linwood college freshman won the title of Abdallah Shrine Rodeo Queen, as a rhinestone crown encircling her cowboy hat, pageant sash and a new saddle proclaim.
Unlike other pageant winners, Carden's title requires knowledge of rodeo, a background she acquired through 4-H and Future Farmers of America.
Sunday morning, Julie Carden's family vehicle was loaded with stuff to take to Ft. Scott Community College. This family car was actually a truck, and the "stuff" was her 3-year-old Quarter horse, Simon Badger.
Carden will soon have to find a balance between her first year at college and her duties as a rodeo queen.
For the pageant, Carden studied rodeo rulebooks, and now she'll switch to magazines to keep up on current rodeo trends so she'll know the answer, whether it's a child asking a question at a rodeo or if it's dispelling myths about the sport.
"A lot of society isn't into rodeo," Carden said. "Your job is to educate the public."
Some attitudes don't always make that easy. Carden will have to counter arguments about the sport's cruelty to animals by citing veterinary checks and committees concerned for the animals' safety.
"A lot of things have changed in rodeo in the past couple of years," Carden said.
Because she is the Abdallah Shrine rodeo queen, part of Carden's reign will involve visiting children in Shrine hospitals with high school football all-stars participating in the Shrine Bowl.
"I'm taking 27 football players down with me, so that could be an interesting situation," she said.
Aside from rodeo knowledge and a category called "poise and personality," which involves modeling, proficiency at horsemanship helped earn Carden her crown. Working well with the animals is a necessity of the job, she said.
"When you go to all these rodeos, you might have to borrow a horse," Carden said. "You have 20 seconds to get to know them before you get on them. I can definitely say the 4-H and FFA have given me a good background on this."
A pony given to Carden when she was 1-1/2-years old by her grandfather didn't hurt either.
"I don't think he thought it would turn into this," Carden said.
With Simon Badger boarded only several miles away from her school, Carden will work toward a bachelor's degree in animal science with hopes of going to Kansas State next year. Eventually, she hopes to study veterinary medicine.
Carden's title is just the beginning of a possible future as a rodeo queen. She could run for Miss Rodeo Kansas, who goes on to compete for the title of Miss Rodeo America.
"This is my first title, and I'd like to gain some more experience," she said. "I realize going out there and competing is a part."