Court ready for big week
Jul 24, 2013 (The Observer - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Last week, Bailey Dutcher, Shai Allen and Sarah Kunkle were just three more sets of hands at the rodeo grounds in Joseph -- joining teams of volunteers to ready the site for the biggest event of the year.
Today, they are royalty, resplendent in one of their many well-chosen outfits and ready for the grand entry at the 68th Chief Joseph Days Rodeo.
From dust to regalia, the court, like three Cinderellas, put away the weeding/painting/garbage collecting clothes for their cowboy hats and spurs this week; three ambassadors of one of the best small rodeos in the country.
The girls' first outing this year, the Lilac Parade in Spokane, Wash., was a new destination for the Chief Joseph Days court and they were rewarded with first prize in their category.
"It was so big and we were on TV," Dutcher said.
They came home to Eastern Oregon for the Livestock Show and the court coronation where Wallowa County's own Sydney Cooney serves on the EOLS court.
Allen was a member of last year's Livestock Show court and knows the drill very well. Dutcher's cousin, Cheyenne Knight, is on the Elgin court, so the whole northeastern corner of Oregon is like a big family.
Dutcher said she is surprised at the attention the court gets. "People wave and walk up and talk to you and are interested in you."
Chaperone Brinda Stanley agreed that the court gets quite a bit of attention, especially in their official parade day outfits.
"When I see these girls put up posters in La Grande people ask them where they are from -- they get so admired in their suedes," Stanley said.
The girls get a lot of attention with their cowgirl curls, their outfits and their horses -- this court can ride and ride well. The girls have done their run-ins during the grand entry at other rodeos, but this week they do it at home and join the Tuckerettes riding group that ushers in each night of the rodeo.
"Not just every kind of horse can handle that pressure," Kunkle said.
Allen, a consummate horse woman, joins the girls for practice at the arena after her job at the Eagle Cap Pack Station at Wallowa Lake. Her trusty steed, Oscar, who loves the run-ins, has a hurt shoulder. Appropriately enough her borrowed horse for the rodeo is named "Mayday." Kunkle, too, has grown up on horseback and her mount, Tipper, is an old hand at rodeo courts; he was Kunkle's sister Tricia's horse when she was queen.
The grounds are tidy, the buildings are painted and the court is ready to greet the crowd of thousands that is descending on Joseph this week.
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