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Miss Rodeo Canada reigns through pandemic

Miss Rodeo Canada Alicia Erickson signs an autograph for Louisa Marshall at Fort Macleod Extendicare.

Alicia Erickson realized a childhood dream in 2019 when she was crowned Miss Rodeo Canada.
The Trochu resident was following in the footsteps of her mother, herself a local rodeo queen.
“I saw an old newspaper with her picture in it and I said, ‘I want to be like that’,” Erickson recalled of a childhood memory. “I wanted a buckle, I wanted a crown, and I wanted a sash.”

“Ever since I saw that little photo my mind was set. Everything I did, everything I saw, that was my goal.”
Erickson, 23, competed in high school and college rodeo and earned rodeo queen titles at Carstairs, Hanna and Ponoka before becoming Miss Rodeo Canada.
Erickson was crowned Miss Rodeo Canada in an emotional ceremony at the 2019 Canadian Finals Rodeo in Red Deer.

“I’d been working toward Miss Rodeo Canada for years,” Erickson said. “And so for them to announce my name, that I was winning this crown, it was absolutely outstanding. I just overflowed with emotion.”
Erickson was in Fort Macleod on Thursday for a visit with Extendicare residents, during which she chatted and autographed photos of herself.

“Being able to actually talk to residents, it’s incredible. It’s good. Things are getting back to normal.”
Thursday marked the first time in 18 months Erickson was able to appear in person at a seniors’ facility, outside of a few times when she walked around the local senior’s homes with her horses.

Erickson wasn’t expecting to navigate the challenges of COVID-19 during her reign, which was extended for a second year due to the pandemic. It’s the first time since 1955 Miss Rodeo Canada held the title for two years.
Since March 2020, the pandemic and public health restrictions preventing large gatherings forced cancellation of professional rodeos and other events Miss Rodeo Canada would normally attend in person.

During a normal one-year term, Miss Rodeo Canada would appear in person at more than 400 events.
“It’s definitely a hard hit not only for an ambassador but the whole community — stock contractors, cowboys who make their livelihood,” Erickson said of the pandemic.
Erickson made the best of things, making virtual appearances and found she was able to take part in some events she might not otherwise have attended.

“My year started out strong and when this all happened I did a lot of on-line meetings. I used the Internet to promote sponsors and rodeos and to tell rodeo’s story, and I got a lot of viewers from it,” Erickson said.
Erickson was pleased to find out her on-line appearances were effective.
“Nothing is like being in person but it was a great alternative. Now having both of them — on-line and in-person at rodeos — we reach a lot of people.”

The next Miss Rodeo Canada will be crowned in November at the Canadian Finals Rodeo, but Erickson’s reign continues until the last day of the National Finals Rodeo in December in Las Vegas.
Erickson plans to return to Red Deer College to finish a degree in social work, with a long-term plan to create mental health programming for junior and senior high school students.

For now, she will fulfill the duties of Miss Rodeo Canada in the manner she originally planned.
“I’m just ecstatic about being able to end the last five months of my reign at rodeos in Canada, and being able to make that in-person connection with people and draw them to our sport and the way of life that we love so much.”

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