By Heather Cameron
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Taber local Jessie Ferguson will be competing for Miss Rodeo Canada 2024 at the Canadian Finals Rodeo on Nov. 1-5 at Westerner Park in Red Deer.
“This has been a goal for a very long time, it’s an opportunity of a lifetime just for the chance to run for the prestigious title,” Ferguson said. “I am so excited to represent Taber in this journey!”
Ferguson says that it is so important to be a well rounded contestant, as contestants are judged on many different components including Horsemanship, Public Speaking, Personal Interview, a Written Exam, and even a Modeling section at the CFR Fashion Show.
“Of course, the end goal would be coming out with the title of Miss Rodeo Canada 2024, but I am competing against seven other contestants who have all come to be close friends as we travel the rodeo trail together. I am most excited for the connections that will be made and the memories shared amongst us,” Ferguson said. “I hope to inspire all those that anything is possible.”
Prior to this opportunity, Ferguson was named the 2022 Canadian Intercollegiate Reserve Team Roping Champion, Champion of the 2021 Canadian High School Rodeo Team Roping Champion with her little brother, given a top 10 placement with an Impromptu Category win at the International High School Rodeo Queen Competition in Wyoming, and declared winner of the Provincial 4-H Public Speaking Competition at the age of 16 years. She also traveled to Ontario to speak at the Royal Winter Fair.
“4-H and Queening have opened doors I could have never imagined. The shy girl I once was could only dream of what I have accomplished now,” Ferguson said. “Winning has shown me anything is possible. Competing against hundreds for a trip of a lifetime to the Northwest Territories could have never been possible without dedication to 4-H. Placing Top Ten has pushed me to strive for more. Having been awarded in 2021 proved family always comes first (and) has shown me girls are capable of everything guys can do.”
In addition to being active in her community, Ferguson recently graduated from Lakeland College’s Animal Health Technology Program.
“With a passion for animals and their health, I found this program to be very beneficial in directing my focus on helping our four legged rodeo athletes compete to the best of their abilities,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson says that her family has also always pushed her 100 per cent and she would not be as successful without them. Her family, Ferguson says, is a rodeo cowboy family of three generations, always competing in numerous events varying from Team Roping, Steer Wrestling, Tie-Down Roping, and Barrel Racing.
“A huge part of being a Rodeo Queen has to do with being open to the public, showing your true transparent self and handling each situation with poise and grace,” Ferguson said. “Throwing myself into new scenarios where you aren’t sure of the expectations others may have of you has been a huge part of my preparation. Of course, studying, practicing modeling, and public speaking have been critical as well, but feeling confident in the public’s eye in new and unfamiliar atmospheres has been a big focus for me.”
Ferguson says that like most young girls, she was always infatuated with Rodeo Queens and watched them sign autographs with their pretty horses and big curly hair. Watching that, Ferguson says, made her hope that one day she would get that opportunity, but she now realizes the job of a rodeo queen is that and much more.
“We are the educators between the urban and rural societies,” Ferguson said. “Making school visits, explaining to our youth the importance of our cowboy culture. Stopping in at senior homes and learning the stories they share from back in the day just so we can pass on their legacy to the next generation. We sit in the stands and answer questions of those who want to learn about our way of life. And I couldn’t be more thankful to have the opportunities to represent Canada all while doing so. You have to want to learn. Sit down and listen to those trying to help you, talk to different people and pick out the parts you like from each individual in order to make your own style. You have to be your own person and find what makes you tick.”