It´s Mother Lode Round-Up time. Activities surrounding Sonora´s 48th annual event are beginning to gain momentum this weekend.
Mother Lode Round-Up Queen contestants are in the spotlight beginning Saturday during the Queen Horsemanship competition at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds arena beginning at 10 a.m.
A lot is placed on this segment of the competition. It is worth the most points that go towards the final decision of choosing the new Mother Lode Round-Up Queen. Seven young ladies are in this year´s competition: Heather Hanlon, Jena Questo, Drew Kermeen, Joni Vermillio, Meagan Middleton, Stephaine Weaver and Kayla Njirich.
Reigning 2003 Round-Up Queen Caity Smith says the horsemanship competition accounts for 35 percent of the total score tally. The girls take their horses through various riding skills; including walk, trout and jog, barrel racing, pole bending, reining, and the queen salute.
Professional judges evaluate the candidates, giving point scores to each event. “They judge on the girl´s ability to ride and their ability to get along with their horse,” Smith explained.
Throughout the entire queen competition, 17 separate judges evaluate nearly every aspect of each contestant, including riding and speaking abilities, poise, public demeanor, personality and looks.
The queen contest actually begins in February, Smith said. So called “silent judges” watch the girls looking at how the contestants interact with people. “It´s a lot of fun. You have to be yourself and you just enjoy the public admiring you as a queen competitor,” Smith said.
This year´s Queen Pageant is Sunday evening at the Sonora Elks Lodge beginning at 5 p.m. “It´s so exciting,” Smithsaid as she recalled last years pageant. “You´re in the back all nervous and stuff, but once you get out there, it´s time for you to shine.”
Tickets are available at the door.