There is a 66 per cent chance of the Miss Rodeo Canada title coming home to Rimbey in November.
Three women are competing for the Miss Rodeo Canada title, and two of those contestants, Martina Holtkamp and Mackenzie Skeels, hail from Rimbey. The other competitor, Harleigh Zack, is from Kitscoty, Alta. The competition is held during the Canadian Finals Rodeo in Red Deer, which runs Nov. 2 to 6, and the winner will be crowned on Nov. 4.
Participants in the Miss Rodeo Canada competition are judged on horsemanship, public speaking, personal interview, written exam, modelling and overall personality. According to the website, “Since 1955, Miss Rodeo Canada has proudly represented the sport of rodeo across the country and around the world as an official ambassador to our heritage and western way of life. She attends hundreds of events each year across Canada, the United States and Australia, representing the various sponsors that support her.”
To qualify to compete, contestants had to have earned a pro rodeo queen title in the previous two years.
Holtkamp, 25, earned her degree in agriculture business from Olds College and she currently works for Farm Credit Canada in Red Deer. She’ll be competing as Miss Strathmore Stampede, which she won at the end of June.
When asked why she decided to compete in the Miss Rodeo Canada competition, Holtkamp’s answer was simple: “My love for rodeo,” she said. “I love building the sport and sharing it with others.”
Holtkamp was the president of her Olds College rodeo team, served on the Canadian College Rodeo Association board of executive for two years and she currently volunteers as secretary for the Rimbey Agricultural Society.
When she’s not working or volunteering, Holtkamp competes in barrel racing, pole bending, goat tying, ladies cow riding and roping from time to time. But she said her favourite event is ladies cow riding.
“I’m an adrenaline junkie,” she laughed. “I like how it feels when you make a good ride. It feels like an accomplishment.”
Holtkamp said the level of sportsmanship in ladies cow riding is also what draws her to it, because you’re cheering for your friends and then competing against them.
Growing up on a dairy farm just west of Rimbey, Holtkamp’s family now operates a grain farm.
“Growing up on a farm is what led me to my career path,” she said.
Skeels, 23, graduated from Red Deer College with a media studies and professional communications diploma and she currently works for Direct Livestock Marketing Systems, conducting the online portion of cattle sales, as well as doing the photography and videography for the sale.
Skeels was crowned Miss Ponoka Stampede this year, a title which her mother won back in 1992, as well.
Growing up on a cattle farm just outside Rimbey, Skeels has been involved in agriculture all her life. Her first cow was given to her and from there she has bought, traded and raised cattle, expanding her herd to 35 head. Her leadership roles through her 12 years of 4-H and the Young Canadian Simmental Association (YCSA) began her journey of promoting the western way of life.
Some highlights for her are winning five national aggregate titles with the National YCSA and competing in the American Junior Simmental Association shows in 2016 and 2018 as the representative from Canada. Furthermore, competing in regional-level public speaking with 4-H and being selected to attend the 2018 4-H Canadian Citizenship Congress in Ottawa at Parliament.
While Skeels doesn’t compete in rodeo events, she is an accomplished horsewoman and she competes in Canadian Cowboy Challenge events, which is an extreme version of trail.
“I love the rodeo and the western way of life,” she said. “It’s so cool to be able to bridge the gap between the fans and the rodeo and be part of the original extreme sport. I have so much love and respect for our competitors and I love being a rodeo queen so I can be part of the action as well.”
Both women have been crowed Rimbey Rodeo Queen in the past – Holtkamp in 2014 and Skeels in 2017.