ST. GEORGE — A bouquet of dazzling beauties was in full bloom at the Dixie Sunbowl Thursday evening as contestants dressed in sequined western wear waited to find out who would be the next Dixie Roundup rodeo queen and princess – and for one winner it represented a mother’s wish come true.
Hundreds gathered for the “83rd annual St. George Lions Dixie Roundup Rodeo Queen and Princess Contest” as it culminated in ceremony Thursday evening with the reigning queen and princess passing their crowns to their successors, bringing in a new court for 2017.
This year’s pageant included seven contestants; the queen category had three competitors while four young women vied for the title of princess. The queen title is open to ladies between ages 17 and 24 while princesses must be between 14 and 16.
After taking the final ride around the Dixie Sunbowl the reigning queen from 2016, McKayla Jimmerson, relinquished her crown to Aubrey Schafer, daughter of Jim and Lori Schafer.
The reigning princess from 2016, Ashton Anderson, passed her tiara to Austyn Waegerle, daughter of Shane and Randilyn Waegerle.
Aubrey Schafer was also awarded Miss Congeniality, appearance and horsemanship in the queen category, while Austyn Waegerle was awarded Miss Congeniality, photogenic and interview in the princess category.
The other competitors for queen were: McKinley Drake, who was named first runner-up and received awards in the speech and photogenic category; and Naomi Weida who placed as the second runner-up.
Dalli Holyoak was named first runner-up and was also awarded speech and appearance awards in the princess category; Mary Rowley came in as second runner-up and won horsemanship; and third runner-up was Peyton Christensen.
The contestants presented skills in horsemanship, modeling and speech to a panel of three judges during Thursday’s competition. The newly crowned queen and princess were awarded scholarships as well as saddles, equipment, tiaras and other prizes.
For Aubrey Schafer, the title of Dixie Roundup Rodeo Queen 2017 has a deeper meaning. Her mother died of cancer a few years ago. Yet, her mother was always her role model, Aubrey Schafer said, and one of her mother’s wishes was for her to become a Dixie Roundup Rodeo Queen.
“I’m doing this for my mom,” she said.
Aubrey Schafer is also looking forward to being a role model herself as she represents the Lions Dixie Roundup during her reign, she said, as well as attending the activities and being with family.
Minutes after she was crowned princess, Austyn Waegerle said she was surprised at the honor.
“I don’t even know what to say! I’m just everywhere, I’m so excited and happy,” she said with enthusiasm.
The most exciting thing for Austyn Waegerle is the opportunity to attend all of the rodeos as a representative of the sport.
“That’s one of the main reasons I wanted to try out,” she said.
Waking up on the morning of the pageant was a challenge, Austyn Waegerle said, but once everything started the day went by very quickly.
The Lions Club provided free hamburgers to a crowd of hundreds during the final competition and coronation ceremony.
Aubrey Schafer and Austyn Waegerle will show off their rodeo skills at the 83rd annual Dixie Roundup Sept. 14, 15 and 16 at the Dixie Sunbowl, an event that is sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, or PRCA.
The Dixie Roundup is the largest fundraiser of the year for the St. George Lions Club. The international organization’s world-wide programs include Leader Dog, blindness prevention and disaster relief.
Locally the Lions’ contribution includes scholarships programs, eyeglasses for the needy and beautification projects in St George, including the building of walking paths, park benches and tree plantings.
Lions Club International is the largest service club organization in the world with more than 1.4 million members globally, as of April 2015. The Lions Club launched in the U.S. by Chicago businessman Melvin Jones on June 7, 1917. From sponsoring student scholarships to eyeglasses for the needy, the organization provides a stepping stone for individual achievements.
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St. George News videographer Sheldon Demke contributed to this report.
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