Fair queen role not all glitter and glamour

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The Socorro County Fair Queen contest is under way. Though the titles of queen, princess and sweetheart carry some glamour with them, serving in these roles requires a good deal of skill and poise.

Candidates are judged on their ability to present themselves in a positive manner, their riding ability and on public speaking skills. Winning titles are given to the highest scoring candidates, with a minimum score requirement, so even if a division only has one candidate, they are not automatically selected. A candidate must be adaptable to most situations and demonstrate her ability to promote the Socorro County Fair and Rodeo Association as a publicity agent.

Susann Mikkelson/El Defensor Chieftain: Contestants for the 2013 Socorro County Fair Queen contest practice their horsemanship on July 25, while receiving feedback from their coaches in the arena at Socorro County Fairgrounds. 2012 Socorro County Sweetheart Senaida Romero is in the background. Also pictured are Tabitha Hunter and Savannah Castagnitto.

Horsemanship accounts for 50 percent of the total judging. Personality and appearance account for the other half. In the horsemanship category candidates are judged on such things as awareness of leads and lead changes, mounting and dismounting the horse, knowing horse tackle and even balance, poise and positioning in the saddle — including the details positioning of hands and feet. Really important, though, is for the queen to know how to ride and handle her horse in a variety of environments. Riding around in a rodeo environment can be very different than riding out in a pasture or at home in the corral. There is a lot of hustle and bustle, including other participants in the rodeo, as well as spectators and vendors.

“People at rodeos are notorious for wanting to try to get the queen bucked off,” Jamie Gerard, 2012 State Fair Queen told the 2013 candidates on July 25, during a horsemanship workshop for the candidates at the Socorro County Fairgrounds. Gerard, a three-time county fair queen, took the state championship on her third attempt. Gerard is assisting her mother, Sonja Gerard coach the 2013 Socorro County candidates.

Candidates were instructed on various rodeo etiquette, as well as general horsemanship – etiquette such as “always pass on the inside, because if you are passing a horse and it starts to kick and you are between it and the fence, you have no where to go.”

They are taught reining techniques and general awareness of their horse, how to salute, wave and ride, and how to speak publicly.

In the personality and appearance category, candidates are judged on their posture, poise, manners and dress. Cleanliness and neatness are key, as is ability to project and express themselves when they speak.

This year’s candidates will be profiled in the Socorro County Fair insert in Aug. 29 edition of the El Defensor Chieftain. Judging will occur on Thursday, Aug. 29, during the Socorro County Fair.