Contestants on horseback dazzle crowd, 2 gallop their way to royalty

Princess, Trinity Certonio and Queen Kaity Bishop pose with Lions Club members, Dixie Sun Bowl, St. George, Utah, May 1, 2014 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — An enthusiastic crowd cheered from the Dixie Sun Bowl Stadium, as contestants dressed in sparkly embellishments and matching cowgirl hats — bobby pinned to keep from flying off — competed in the 80th annual St. George Lions Dixie Round Up Queen and Princess Contest on Thursday.

Out of nine total contestants, six competed for princess, ages 14-17, and three competed for queen, ages 18-24. The contest includes the run-of-the-mill pageant categories except horsemanship replaces the talent category.

For the contestants, the Dixie Round Up Queen and Princess Contest helps keep the western way of life and appreciation for traditional values, said pageant director Tara Coughlin who has been involved with the queen and princess contest for around six years.

Miss Congeniality Aubrey Schafer rides Lucky (right) and Best Appearance winner McKayla Jimerson rides Oakley after finishing their patterns for horsemanship, Dixie Sun Bowl, St. George, Utah, May 1, 2014 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News
Miss Congeniality Aubrey Schafer rides Lucky (right) and Best Appearance winner McKayla Jimerson rides Oakley after finishing their patterns for horsemanship, Dixie Sun Bowl, St. George, Utah, May 1, 2014 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News

“Many of the girls try out for years,” Coughlin said. “We love the sport of rodeo, but many of them are geared more toward men. This contest gives the girls a chance to present their horsemanship, which is really difficult. It takes so much time and dedication.”

This was the first Dixie Round Up for Princess contestant and Miss Congeniality winner Aubrey Schafer, 14. Schafer named her horse Lucky after a four-leaf clover that she found and had in her pocket around the time that she got her horse. Schafer said her inspiration for competing in this pageant came from her mother, who passed away a few months ago.

“My mom loved horses and I feel like she’s watching me tonight and is proud,” she said. “This is an amazing pageant. I’ve learned so much.” Schafer said she wanted to thank Tara and The Lions Club for putting on an amazing pageant and her Aunt Sandy who she said is an amazing role model.

This year’s Dixie Round Up Queen Kaity Bishop, 18, said that she has competed in too many pageants and rodeos to count and her dream, since the earliest of her memories, was to be Dixie Round Up Queen. Her mother was also once crowned a rodeo queen and her whole family is involved in riding horses.

Kaity Bishop, 2014 St. George Lions Dixie Round Up Queen, poses with her family, Dixie Sun Bowl, St. George, Utah, May 1, 2014 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News
Kaity Bishop, 2014 St. George Lions Dixie Round Up Queen, poses with her family, Dixie Sun Bowl, St. George, Utah, May 1, 2014 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News

“I think I was just happy to be here and it came across,” she said pertaining to her trick to winning. “You have to remember that the judges don’t decide it you’re a good person, you do.” Bishop said the most difficult part of the pattern was riding on the grass. “My horse, Buddy, is used to dirt where it’s easier for him to slide,” she said.

As far as the year ahead as Queen, Bishop said she is excited most for the Round Up Rodeo in September and promoting a sport she is truly passionate about.

St. George Lions Dixie Round Up Princess, Trinity Certonio, 16, said she is also excited to promote the upcoming rodeo, a sport that she said she is truly passionate about as well. Certonio said the most difficult part of the set pattern was when she lost a spur and couldn’t change leads. “I just kicked hard and prayed,” she said.

Winner of Best Appearance for Princess was Mckayla Jimerson, 15. Jimerson said she grew up watching her older sisters compete in rodeo pageants and knew that was something she always wanted to do. She is also involved in rodeo queening at Desert Hills High School where they travel all over the state to go to rodeos.

Contestants at the St. George Lions Dixie Round Up Queen and Princess Contest, Dixie Sun Bowl, St. George, Utah, May 1, 2014 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News
Contestants at the St. George Lions Dixie Round Up Queen and Princess Contest, Dixie Sun Bowl, St. George, Utah, May 1, 2014 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News

“Riding horses is difficult because you have to know when to stop your horse, slow it down, and turn,” Jimerson said. “Last year I tried out for Dixie Round Up, but I had maybe a couple of weeks of training with my horse, Oakley. Through taking care of my horse — watering, feeding, bathing — I spend more time with her and we have grown a bond.”

Dressed in all lime green and sparkly embellishments, Princess Contestant Ciera Christensen, 14, has spent most of her life riding horses, but this year’s Dixie Round Up was her first pageant.

“The best part of participating in the pageant was getting to know all the girls and being a support group for each other,” she said.

With this being her first time participating in a pageant, the other girls were there along the way and gave her many helpful pointers.

“My mom grew up with horses and I’ve always been an animal lover,” Christensen said. “The lead changes were the most technical part of this pattern mostly because my horse Belle is lazy.”

For first-timers in the future, Christensen lends this bit of advice: “Just have fun, don’t stress out about it. Otherwise you will over think it.”

Princess Contest

  • 2014 Dixie Roundup Princess: Trinity Certonio
  • 1st Runner Up: McKinley Drake
  • Miss Photogenic: Trinity Certonio
  • Miss Congeniality: Aubrey Schafer
  • Best Speech: Trinity Certonio
  • Best Appearance: Mckayla Jimerson
  • Best Interview: McKinley Drake
  • Horsemanship: Trinity Certonio

Queen Contest

  • 2014 Dixie Roundup Queen: Kaity Bishop
  • 1st Runner Up: Mikayla Huston
  • Miss Photogenic: Kaity Bishop
  • Miss Congeniality: Alena Weida
  • Best Speech: Kaity Bishop
  • Best Appearance: Kaity Bishop
  • Best Interview: Kaity Bishop
  • Horsemanship: Mikayla Huston

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

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