WILLCOX — The pomp and pageantry of a real Rodeo Queen and Princess will return to the Rex Allen Days Rodeo Oct. 3-4 in Willcox.
Adeylia (Adie) Woodward, 16, of Queen Creek was put through the rigors and scrutiny of a full rodeo queen contest and bested three other talented candidates to earn the title for 2020-21.
“She was very genuine and sweet and was there for the right reasons and wanted to represent Rex Allen Days to the best of her ability,” said queen contest judge Kendra Hansen, herself a Rex Allen Days rodeo queen from 1994-95.
“She was here last year with her drill team in the parade and really fell in love with the Willcox and the people here. When she heard we were bringing back the rodeo queen, she wanted to help represent us.”
Contest judge Michelle Goodwin, a former rodeo queen in Benson, agreed. “She just stood out, her outfits, personality, poise.Her riding was great. She stood out even down to her application.”
Woodward, an aspiring veterinarian, wrote on her application that a rodeo queen should “educate the public on the importance of preserving our western heritage.”
Goodwin added “as the queen, you don’t just represent the town or event, you represent rodeo itself.”
“Her scores were so good in the competition,” Hansen said. “She’s on a drill team and was very skilled in horsemanship. In her speech, she performed as if she were Annie Oakley, doing it in first person. It was good and she put a lot into it.”
“It was a unique presentation and she has a stage presence about her,” added Goodwin.
The local rodeo had named ambassadors to represent their event for the past four years before returning to the traditional queen format this year.
Woodward will appear and be crowned at the Sunday, Oct. 4 performance of the Rex Allen Days Rodeo, where runner-up Sydney Haralson, 15, of Safford, will be crowned as princess.
“Sydney did very well in the interview and was super knowledgeable in horse knowledge and helps her family with their horse care and wants to go into veterinary medicine,” Hansen said.
Winning the rodeo queen title involves traveling to other area events and rodeos to represent and promote the annual Rex Allen Days celebration.
“I hope Addie will inspire others, including locals, to run next year,” Hansen said.
“Kids enjoy a pretty girl on a horse in shiny clothes, so she can be a great role model,” added Goodwin.
Other contestants included 15-year-old Stevie Davis of Benson and 17-year-old Rose Albright of Marana.
“All of the girls did great,” Goodwin said. “It’s just that Adie stood out.”