Behind the Stampede: Royalty takes a village

·3 min read

For the next three Saturdays, the News continues to take you behind the scenes of the Medicine Hat Exhibition & Stampede. Each week explores what goes into preparing for, operating and cleaning up different aspects of Stampede.

This week, royal insiders Bailee McNaughton and Lori Siedlecki discuss the people and planning behind the crown and what it takes to maintain the royal standard.

Medicine Hat Exhibition & Stampede’s annual four-day Rodeo Royalty Competition is coming to a close this afternoon, following which judges will converge to determine who will be the next Stampede Queen and Princess.

While the week has been hectic for contestants and current royalty – who support contestants with their introduction to royal duties – it is made manageable thanks to countless committee members and volunteers, who manage schedules and logistics.

While everything culminates with the Queen and Princess crowning – held during the July 29 Friday Night Rodeo – things won’t slow down for the newly appointed royals, nor their aides, royalty committee chair Lori Siedlecki told the News.

“People don’t realize we’re a committee which runs 365 days a year,” Siedlecki said. “We do over 500 hours with the Queen and Princess (throughout the year).”

Unlike most committees, which get a few weeks rest following Stampede, royals and the royalty committee are back at work immediately after the crowning. The committee’s 12 volunteer members will share with new royals all the roles entail, and may provide some guidance in regards to royal etiquette.

Then, the committee will begin scheduling public royal appearances and managing any logistics needed to facilitate such.

“We work hand-in-hand co-ordinating events for the girls and keeping things organized,” Siedlecki said. “Every month, we have an order of operations which kind of breaks down what we need to get done, whether it’s getting in contact with our sponsors, booking events, booking the arenas or just doing little different intricate pieces, (as) throughout the year there’s rodeos and parades. And we have somebody who’s in charge of our truck and trailer, to make sure everything’s maintained.

“And then we try to accommodate the schedule as much as we can for the girls to have as much publicity within the community and to promote the city and Medicine Hat Exhibition & Stampede.”

Siedlecki says there are standard events royals will attend, however the committee also gets appearance requests from the community.

Throughout the year, royals partake in numerous charity volunteer opportunities, visit schools and seniors homes, act as a representative at local and out-of-town events – accompanied by two committee chaperones – and meet with sponsors, in addition to their personal commitments, such as school or work.

Current royalty Bailee McNaughton says committee support is vital, especially in the first few weeks, as royals settle into their new roles. But, committee members don’t do everything for royalty.

Doing hair and makeup, curating outfits, ensuring clothes are properly washed, dried and pressed, caring for a personal horse and training the horse are some of the many responsibilities royals agree to when they accept the position.

Now nearing the end of her one-year term, McNaughton is grateful to the support she was given from both the committee members, other MHE&S volunteers and the community itself.

“I think when people think of royalty and rodeo Queen and Princess, they think about going to rodeos and always being with the horses,” McNaughton said. “Even I just wasn’t aware of how much outreach really goes into the program and how much the community is also backing us up.”

KENDALL KING, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News

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