Rodeo Royalty Graces Rim Country

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Payson and the Rim Country are once again hosting the contest and coronation of Miss Rodeo Arizona. Many of the pageant activities leading to the selection of Miss Rodeo Arizona 2007 are open to the public. Some of the events are free, some require an admission fee.

Events open to the public:

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Rodeo queens from around Arizona and surrounding areas are always part of the festivities at the Gary Hardt Memorial Rodeo.

1 p.m. Friday, May 18: Horsemanship Competition at the Payson Event Center arena. Free entry.

3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday, May 18: Autograph signing at Corral West

6:30 p.m. Friday, May 18: Buffet dinner followed by Informal Modeling, Introduction Speeches, Extemporaneous Questions related to both current events and rodeo and horsemanship knowledge Tickets at the door of the Tonto Apache Tribal Activity Center: $18

10:30 a.m. Saturday, May 19: Buffet brunch followed by Fashion Show and State Speeches. Tickets at the door of the Tonto Apache Tribal Activity Center: $18

9 a.m. Sunday, May 20: Continental breakfast followed by the Coronation program, including: presentation of awards and scholarships, crowning of Miss Rodeo Arizona 2007. Tickets at the door of the Tonto Apache Tribal Activity Center: $20

Katie Hill -- sponsored by Prescott Frontier Days Rodeo

Katie Rose Hill, 21, proudly hails from Prescott, Ariz. Growing up less than a mile from the legendary Prescott Frontier Days Rodeo grounds, Hill developed a love for the sport at an early age. Born into a longtime ranching family, you could say her love of rodeo is in her blood.

Rodeo has become more than a favorite pastime to Katie. She has held four rodeo queen titles, including Miss Turquoise Circuit and Miss Teen Rodeo Arizona. Her hobbies include gathering and working cattle, breakaway and team roping, showing her American Quarter Horses, traveling, camping, fishing, running, photography and, most of all, spending time with family and friends.

Pursuing a degree in photojournalism with a minor in agricultural communication, Katie is currently a junior at California State Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo. She has been accepted and plans to attain her Master's degree at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University.

Katie says, "Being Miss Rodeo Arizona would not only be a dream come true, but it would also be an immense opportunity to represent a sport that embodies the values of hard work, determination, and camaraderie. It's a sport that I honor and appreciate."

Casey Jo Rose -- sponsored by Yuma Jaycees Silver Spur Rodeo

Casey Jo Rose was born prematurely in Phoenix, after being air-lifted from Yuma. "They tried to stop me from coming, but I was not having any of that. I was born on August 27, 1985 at only 4 pounds, which just happened to be my grandparent's 25th wedding anniversary," Rose says.

It was a rough start, but she eventually caught up and she has been in Yuma ever since.

"I was born an only child but was raised along with many cousins. I am and have been very close to my parents. My mom has been a continued support all my life. My dad and grandpa have been in rodeo and have been a constant help in enriching my horsemanship and roping skills," Rose says.

She attended and graduated from Yuma High School in 2003. For all four years she was on the softball team, lettering the last three years. She was also on the high school rodeo team two of the three years, competing in barrel racing, goat tying, and breakaway roping.

She is currently attending college to obtain a bachelor's degree in social work, and hopes to eventually work with families in need in her community.

"In my spare time, I enjoy team roping, water sports, softball and hanging out with my family on Sundays playing games," Rose says.

"My life at this time is very full with family and friends and focusing on my education and, of course, I cannot forget the idea of Miss Rodeo Arizona is also on my list of things to do."

Natalie Uptain -- sponsored by Scottsdale Jaycees Parada Del Sol

Natalie Uptain, a fourth generation Arizona native, is 23 and resides in Queen Creek at her family's ranch, along with her horses, dogs and her parents, Cliff and Nancy. A current member of the AQHA, Friends of Rodeo and the Scottsdale Jaycees, Uptain has always been active in the equestrian world, winning buckles and prizes in barrel racing, pole bending, and team penning.

She has held the titles of Gilbert Day Rodeo Queen 2003, Flagstaff Pro Rodeo Queen 2005, and Honorary Gila County Rodeo Queen 2005. Uptain is currently the 2007 Parada Del Sol Rodeo Queen. Volunteering in her community, Uptain has been a part of the "REAch" Program which promotes rodeo and the importance of self respect in Arizona schools. Graduating this May from Chandler-Gilbert College with an associate's degree in the arts, she is planning on attending ASU where she will be majoring in secondary education.

Currently Uptain is working as an administrative assistant for a life insurance company in Mesa. She loves assisting rodeo committees with organizing their rodeos and pageants as well as coaching rodeo queens, riding, fishing, dancing and reading.

Ultimately, Uptain's goal is to be a terrific role model for today's youth.

Destiny Vaught -- sponsored by Rex Allen Days Rodeo

Destiny Vaught, 21, is an Arizona-native residing in Benson, Ariz. At the age of 7, she found a passion toward horses and ranching. She has acquired a small herd of cattle and horses. She drives, ropes, brands cattle and drives horse-drawn wagons.

She is employed by her family's well drilling company as a heavy equipment operator and bookkeeper. She also does the company's public relations.

She is currently Willcox 2007 Rex Allen Days Rodeo Queen. She is also deeply involved in volunteer work for the community in the surrounding areas. She was also the 2001 Benson Butterfield Rodeo Queen.

Vaught earned the law enforcement officer Loebakka Medallion Honors Award at the Tucson Teen Police Academy for the most outstanding cadet in leadership, excellence and courage.

She attends Cochise College and will graduate with a bachelor's degree in business coinciding with equine science. Vaught hopes to emphasize and educate about the values of western heritage and rodeos. "I'd like to speak among different age groups and the public all over the world. My ultimate dream is to own an equestrian riding stable for special needs," she says.

"Education, goals and family have been an important part of my life. I enjoy traveling, giving riding lessons, fishing, sports, reading, spending time with my animals and even just a quiet sunset ride."

Elizabeth Scott -- Miss Rodeo Arizona 2006

Arizona's First Lady of Rodeo, Elizabeth Scott of Tucson, will relinquish her crown and title as Miss Rodeo Arizona 2006 at the Miss Rodeo Arizona Pageant held May 18-20 in Payson.

Scott was honored to have the Turquoise Circuit Rodeo as her sponsor for the state pageant. In capturing the state title, she also won the Horsemanship, Appearance and Personality Awards.

Born and raised in Tucson, Scott is proud to call Arizona home, and proud of her western heritage. Throughout her life she has excelled in a variety of horse events. Taking the show ring at age 4, she found a passion for competition. She went on to receive several championships at Arabian shows, qualify for the AQHYA World Show, and receive 3 top 10's at the APHYA World Show. Scott enjoys competing in events such as barrel racing, roping, western pleasure, hunter, reining and sport horse.

Along with her competitions, school has been an important part of Scott's life. Graduating high school from the Christian Liberty Academy, she was inducted into the National Honor Roll. She graduated from the Arizona Institute of Equine Massage Therapy and Kinesiology and is currently attending Pima Community College. Someday she hopes to attend veterinary school where she can further her education in equine massage and specialize in chiropractic and acupuncture.

She became involved in rodeo royalty competitions as she saw these as a vehicle to educate young people, those with special needs and the general public as well on the sport of rodeo. Elizabeth was named the 2004 Sierra Stampede Rodeo Queen and the next year became the 2005 Turquoise Circuit Queen.

Other Royalty

In addition to the contestants in the Miss Rodeo Arizona pageant, Rodeo Royalty from around the state and surrounding areas are frequent guests of the Gary Hardt Memorial Rodeo.

These women come to Payson and the Rim Country as good will ambassadors of their home towns and the rodeos they represent.

Look for the lovely ladies wearing sashes proclaiming their title. They will participate in the grand entries at the 7 p.m. performances May 18 and May 19 at the Payson Event Center. Many will also take part in the Main Event Rodeo Parade that begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 19 at Julia Randall Elementary School at the west end of West Main Street and travels east to Colcord Road, where it will disband.

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