The Stampede royals Princess Caitlyn OՃonnor and Queen Emma Atkinson at the Stampede grounds on Thursday, August 10, 2023.MHN PHOTO Fernando Moreno-Prado, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Medicine Hat has its own legacy of royalty, reigning in the form of rodeo culture.

The titles come with a lot of perks but also challenges and responsibilities. The Queen and Princess know a lot about learning to work facing weaknesses and still succeeding in spite of them.

Community engagement and participation is not just part of the duties that come with the titles but is also very important to the young ladies as a necessity.

“You want to build something successful that’s generating itself and comes full circle,” says Emma Atkinson, Stampede Queen, 21.

Atkinson and newly crowned Princess Caitlyn O’Connor now work together as a dynamic duo.

“It’s really a journey where you lock hips and build each other up,” says Atkinson. They support one another to bring out the best in each other.

“I don’t believe there’s many differences between queen and princess,” says 20-year-old O’Connor.

The journey of competing for and carrying royal titles also allows both royals to build character.

“You have to embody lots of traits and you have to represent yourself as there are always people looking up to you,” says Atkinson.

They embrace what they are and show it to rest of the world.

“It’s something that people will look at you and realize that this is something you have to work for,” says O’Connor.

The duties also include a lot of interaction with members and association in the local community and other parts of Alberta.

“I find it an honour to be able to represent Medicine Hat and have the opportunity to interact with a lot of individuals throughout the community,” expresses Atkinson.

Activities the duo gets up to include parades, golf tournaments, visiting senior residences and Oktoberfest. They will be going to a couple golf tournaments this month with the Motor Dealers Association and United Way.

Outside royalty, Atkinson is a yoga instructor, horse trainer, gives riding lessons, bakes cupcakes and is self-employed.

“I’m a very active and engaged person,” says Atkinson. She also likes to be in the wilderness through hiking with her dog or paddle boarding.

“Anything that gets me connected to nature.”

O’Connor works with her horses, dancing, music, two jobs and likes camping with family and friends.

“I enjoy little hobbies here and there that keep me busy,” shares O’Connor.

The winners of the titles stand on a legacy of winners and community participants.

“I get to look across at that wall that is full of women that represented this title,” says Atkinson. O’Connor loves the idea that she might inspire other young girls to get involved in rodeo life and competitions.

The competitions include fashion shows and public speaking events.

“The competition week was phenomenal,” says O’Connor. She explains that it had eight competitors and was a fun environment.

“Making all those connections throughout the process of preparing was something that I will never trade for the world.”

The royals embraces their winner statuses. One of the perks of fulfilling their duties as representatives is how they will treasure the memories that come with their experiences.

“It’ll be something I going to be forever grateful that I partook in,” says Atkinson. Atkinson says this will benefit her self-development and open doors to her.

“I can say with full confidence that I will look back on this year and know that it was one of the best years of my life,” says O’Connor.

“It’s going to be something that I will cherish close to my heart forever.”

The duo can be expected to be seen at a variety of other events in the coming months as they work hard to represent the spirit of their community.

“What the community gives to us we give back,” says O’Connor about how good deeds balance each other out.

“When the community comes to support our events, we will be there to support their events.”

On Thursday the royal duo went to Dairy Queen Miracle Treat Day event in their Queen truck. They will be in the Lethbridge parade on Aug. 22 and will be at the Santa Claus Fund Toy Run in September.

“We have a wonderful rodeo and a great organization that I know is well-known around Alberta,” says Atkinson.

“It’s a great opportunity to meet new people that you can connect with as well.”

By FERNANDO MORENO-PRADO, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Aug 15, 2023 at 09:50

This item reprinted with permission from   Medicine Hat News   Medicine Hat, Alberta
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