The Rodeo Queen: Symbol Of Community And Western Women

The Community of Rodeo:

The world of rodeo and word “community” go hand-in-hand. With roots dating back to America’s agricultural and ranching past, rodeo has continued to pave-the-way for the preservation and protection of a lifestyle that is still relevant in our modern world. While modern advancements have changed the course of America’s Western Heritage, the love for this lifestyle continues to thrive through the sport of rodeo. 

History of Rodeo Royalty

Rodeo in the West been a local tradition since it was started by families as a community festival with horse races, picnics, games and a parade. From the beginning rodeos depend on the spirit, dedication, hard work and collaboration of volunteer members to provide their community with an opportunity to experience true western heritage through the historical sport of rodeo.

Riding Pretty: Rodeo Royalty in the American West (Women in the West) by Renée M. Laegreid (Author)

Riding Pretty examines the history, evolution, and significance of the community-sponsored rodeo queen, from the introduction of this new phenomenon at the 1910 Pendleton Round-Up to the advent of Miss Rodeo America in 1956 and places the main theme—connection of queens to community—within the context of the evolution of rodeo as a spectator sport and the changing concepts of gender relations in the American West.

From 1910 to 1956, the community-sponsored rodeo queen’s role expanded, both in terms of her responsibilities and in terms of the community she represented, local, regional, and national. While each community adapted the rodeo queen phenomenon to suit the characteristics of its own celebration, the main characteristics of the role remained: the rodeo queen as a symbol of the local rodeo and as a metaphor for western women.


Meet Our Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo Queens:

Mary Caldwell Weppner, Miss Frontier 1961

Mary was born and raised in Cheyenne. Mary is founding board member of the Old West Museum, serving on the committee that started the “Cheyenne Frontier Days Western Art Show and Sale” for thirty years. She went to Stephens College in Missouri and graduated from University of Wyoming majoring in speech and education. Mary is married to Ed Weppner. She and her husband Ed have three children, Rob, Ginny, and Tricia. Mary’s grandfather, Dugald Whitaker moved to Wyoming in the late 1890s and developed the Whitaker Ranch along Horse Creek near Cheyenne after following one of his older brothers to Wyoming. Mary’s favorite memories of her reign as Miss Frontier was traveling with Princess Bluewater as they promoted Cheyenne Frontier Days across the West especially traveling throughout Colorado.


Shirley Holmes Churchill, Miss Frontier 1979

Shirley has a long-time involvement with Cheyenne Frontier Days.  She began riding on floats and wagons in the parades as a youngster and then horseback sidesaddle.  Shirley was the first Miss Frontier to be presented the beautiful Miss Frontier saddle.  She rode this saddle in every performance for 30 years after serving as Miss Frontier, first as Miss Rodeo Wyoming 1980 and then as a run-out girl and overseeing the timed event cattle and sorting crew.  Shirley is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Floyd R Holmes, Jr.  Shirley was raised on and is now the owner of the 114-year-old 'Centennial' family ranch on Little Bear Route north of Cheyenne.  The ranch was homesteaded in 1910 by her paternal grandparents.  True to the Holmes family's longstanding involvement with Cheyenne Frontier Days, Shirley was the third of four Holmes family Miss Frontiers.  Shirley was inducted into the Cheyenne Frontier Days Hall of Fame in 2009.  She most recently volunteers time to the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum.  She and husband, Brad, continue the ranching traditions and legacy today on their ranches in Colorado and Wyoming.  Shirley has said; "I don't know if I am a part of Cheyenne Frontier Days or if Cheyenne Frontier Days is a part of me".


Rylee Anderson, Miss Frontier 2017 

Rylee Anderson was born and raised in Burns, Wyoming and is a graduate of the University of Wyoming where she earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Agricultural Communications. Rylee was selected to become Lady in Waiting for Cheyenne Frontier Days in August of 2015 and went on to serve as Miss Frontier in 2017. She feels so fortunate to have been able to serve her year as Miss Frontier alongside her best friend, Emily Cameron, who was her Lady in Waiting. Rylee made the move to Phoenix, Arizona where she works for Wallick & Volk, Inc as a licensed Mortgage Advisor almost three years ago. She splits her time nearly in half, traveling back and forth from Arizona to Wyoming. She's looking forward to spending a great deal of her summer in Cheyenne and is excited for all things Cheyenne Frontier Days. 

Cheyenne Frontier Days

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