Queen for a Day

It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a project I was super jazzed about. But I had one earlier this month, and I figure these are good images to break the dry spell with.

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I spent a few days in late June and early July following the three young women on the St. Paul Rodeo Court. After meeting them at a function earlier in the week, we got to talking about their schedule on the first day of the rodeo. They planned to wake up at 2 am, get in full hair and makeup, get their horses ready, start TV interviews… and that was only until 10 am. They still had afternoon appearances and the opening night of the rodeo to ride in. I knew I wanted to be there in the early hours of the morning as they got ready, and, after asking me if I was serious, they happily agreed to let me join them early in the morning. So on Friday I got up at 3 am and drove to St. Paul.

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I spent much of the day with the court, their families, and members of the rodeo, and over the course of that nearly 20-hour day I learned a lot. Yes, about horses and rodeos, but also about family and community. St. Paul is a small town that hosts the nation’s largest Fourth of July rodeo, and it was a treat to get a glimpse of the hard work that everyone pours into the event. Including the court.

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The three young women – Melanie, Morgan and Britney – are smart and funny, hardworking and dedicated. Being on the court is more than looking pretty and waving. They needed exceptional horsemanship skills, a large knowledge base of rodeo history, and the ability to work a crowd and make conversation with everyone from the smallest fans to the oldest community members.

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Watching the camaraderie between the three – who met when they tried out for the court, and have now spent months together traveling across the state – was great fun. I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention how welcoming their families and friends were; the court continuously told me they couldn’t have done the job without their family. I can see why.

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In short, I couldn’t have asked for a better group to work with. There are always things I wish I could improve on, always things I wish I’d done better. But I came away excited again about work and making images, and that is such an invaluable feeling.

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