Riding a galloping horse around an arena while holding a bouquet of roses and waving to a crowd is harder than it looks.
Kylie Hawes teetered a bit during her victory lap after being crowned Fair Queen at the Routt County Fair & Rodeo on Sunday.
The few wobbly moments weren't from lack of skill -- horsemanship is an important quality for fair royalty -- but perhaps from a lack of sleep after several weeks of preparing for fair and gathering points for Fair Queen.
Attendant Kelsey Samuelson said she definitely was feeling the wear and tear of the Fair Queen process, which required candidates write essays, give speeches to the Fair Board and help out with fair activities.
"It was tiring," Samuelson said. "Some nights, I didn't go to bed until 12."
Candidates also were judged on performance in fair events. Samuelson, a sophomore at Soroco High School, participated in horse and market lamb and sheep competitions. Hawes, a junior at Steamboat Springs High School, competed in gymkhana events.
One of the toughest parts of the application process is the speech and interview in front of the Fair Board, said third runner-up Justine Ager, who also is a sophomore at Soroco High School.
"You have to not be nervous," said a disappointed Ager, who guessed her nerves cost her points.
Judging the contest was not easy, announcer Jeannie Jo Logan told the crowd.
"Everybody has done a great job," she said.
The 2004-05 Fair Queen, Cortni Denning, and attendant Kimberlie Williamson handed off their titles to the new royalty.
For the next year, Hawes and Samuelson will represent the Routt County Fair at local parades and events and participate in activities such as the Miss Rodeo Colorado Clinic.
Although smarts and fair performance is critical, looking good -- perhaps the easiest part -- is a must for fair royalty.
Hawes and Samuelson had a few tips for budding cowgirls and future royalty. Smiling, of course, is the biggest thing, Hawes said.
Then there's clothing: A clean hat and jeans -- preferably Cruel Girl Jeans brand -- and Double-H boots, "because they are comfortable," Samuelson said.
It also helps to have a shiny rodeo-winner belt buckle.
Horses, such as Hawes's Oreo and Samuelson's Lightning, should have clean hooves, trimmed manes and shiny Show Sheen coats.
Samuelson and Hawes are available for more advice, Hawes said.
"It's a great program," she said. "I'd really encourage any girl interested in getting involved to talk to myself or Kelsey."
-- To reach Tamera Manzanares call 871-4204 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org