Saturday was an exciting day for 12-year-old Hanna Chalifoux, who was crowned the 2023 Little Britches Rodeo Sweetheart at the Dunmore Equestrian Centre.
The competition included speeches and a fashion show on Friday night, followed by horsemanship early on Saturday morning. Everything ran smoothly and Chalifoux was crowned just before 10 a.m.
“I feel awesome, this is really fun. I’m really excited,” exclaimed Chalifoux immediately following her victory.
Both the Medicine Hat Exhibition and Stampede 2022 Rodeo queen and princess were on hand. Queen Shaylyn Hunt said it was “a whirlwind day for all these young girls. There were four girls in total and they all did amazing in horsemanship and their speeches and modelling last night. Congratulations to Hanna, we really enjoyed being here as the new queen and princess and we look forward to the rest of our year.”
In her speech on Friday night, Chalifoux talked about getting her horse.
“She’s a grey horse, we got her about a year ago. I did lots of rodeos on her and she’s a really good horse. I barrel race, pull bend, and breakaway team roping.”
For the fashion show, Chalifoux wore a dress and a jean jacket. She didn’t seem intimidated by getting up in front of others and said she “had lots of fun doing it.”
Her favourite part during the horsemanship was the western pleasure class.
“It’s like when you are all in the arena at the same time and the judges are in the middle and they call out walk, trot, lope and stop.”
Chalifoux competed in the Irvine rodeo on Sunday and, along with representing the Little Britches Rodeo at the Dunmore Equestrian Centre next weekend, she’ll also be competing there as well.
“The best I’ve done is I got third in the breakaway, I’m hoping to get better,” said Chalifoux.
Emma Baedke spent her birthday last year being crowned the 2022 Little Sweetheart but this year the competition closed one day prior. Baedke also competed in the Irvine rodeo last Sunday. Additionally, Baedke had the honour of riding with the Canadian during the singing of O’ Canada and, along with other members of her 4-H club, participated in the grand entry.
Reflecting on her past year, Baedke said, “I would say my most memorable thing was doing lots of things with the community. I was going to preschools and senior homes. That was very special to me as I got to show them the western way of life.”
Additionally, Baedke feels she’s gained lots of confidence in the past year and has worked on her public speaking.
“I learned that it’s important to put yourself out there even if you might be a little bit scared. Try new things, the people you meet along the way are going to always be kind and caring and will want you to succeed.”
The future is still unknown for Baedke, although she thinks she’ll try for another title at some point. She plans on competing in the Little Britches Rodeo this coming weekend in goat tying, barrel racing and pull bending. Volleyball will also be taking up much of her after-school time, with Baedke playing on the A-team.
Baedke’s mom, Pam, stated, “it’s been a great year. It’s been a really fabulous organization to represent and warm and welcoming, and it’s gone by really quick.”
SAMANTHA JOHNSON, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News