SUNDRE — For only the second time in history, a former Sundre rodeo queen has been named Miss Rodeo Canada.
Jayden Calvert, who in 2018 had been crowned Miss Rodeo Sundre, was one of three contestants in the running for this year’s competition at the 2021 Canadian Finals Rodeo in Red Deer held earlier this month.
The other two contenders were 23-year-old Naomi Akkermans, Miss Ponoka Stampede, and 21-year-old Rayelle Smith, Medicine Hat Exhibition and Stampede Queen.
“It was a pretty trying week — the competition was difficult and took a lot out of a girl,” Calvert told The Albertan over the phone during a follow-up interview.
“But I was just enjoying the ride and trying to just be authentically myself,” she said.
From Drayton Valley, the 22-year-old cowgirl who calls the MT Bar Ranch home, expressed gratitude for the opportunity to represent Sundre. Heading into the competition, the University of Alberta graduate who earned a bachelor of science in agriculture with a major in animal science, said she was caught a little off-guard.
“I honestly wasn’t sure what the outcome of the crowning was going to be. I definitely wasn’t holding my breath that I would be the lucky girl crowned to be the next Miss Rodeo Canada. But I guess it just worked out that way,” she said.
“I wasn’t honestly expecting it. So, was my heart racing? No, not really,” said Calvert, adding she would have been been thrilled for either of the other contestants to win.
“It definitely feels like it hasn’t even totally set in yet. But I have a pretty awesome year ahead of me.”
Extending her appreciation to everyone who offered their support, Calvert first and foremost praised the Sundre Rodeo and Race Association for sending her to the Miss Rodeo Canada competition as their rodeo queen.
“They took a chance on me and I’m so glad to have them behind me, and very happy that I can bring the crown home to Sundre for only the second time in history,” she said.
She also went on to acknowledge the Miss Rodeo Sundre committee and coordinator Alisa Brace as well as the Miss Rodeo Canada committee and sponsors “for making it possible to have a national representative for the sport of rodeo. I can’t wait to work with them all more.”
And last but certainly not least, Calvert also recognized her family and friends who throughout her life’s adventures have ridden right alongside her since the beginning.
“I had so many supporters there at the CFR in the Peavey Mart Centrium cheering me on,” she said. “That was just so amazing to see.”
Asked what she most looks forward to once officially crowned this January, the Miss Rodeo Canada lady-in-waiting without hesitation said, “I’m definitely looking forward to the Sundre Pro Rodeo,” which is scheduled for June 24-26.
“I can’t wait for that one. That’ll be a highlight,” she added. “Hopefully we’ll be seeing a lot of people in 2022, hopefully we’ll have a great Canadian rodeo season.”
Until then, she looks forward to getting her feet wet prior to taking the big plunge by attending events like the upcoming National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, which takes place Dec. 2-11.
“I will be in Vegas cheering on our Canadian cowboys,” she said, eager to check out everything the NFR has in store.
Brace said everyone on the Miss Rodeo Sundre committee was beyond delighted for — and very proud of — Calvert.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve had a (former Miss Rodeo) Sundre girl crowned,” said Brace, adding the last time it happened was when Arleta Thiessen, née Bowhay, was crowned Miss Rodeo Canada 2012 after winning the 2011 competition.
“So, it’s been exactly 10 years,” she said. “The crowd was very excited when (Calvert) was announced.”
Asked how providing a supportive role that helped Calvert along the path to success felt, Brace said, “It was so exciting when she won, and one of the first things that my mom actually said to me was, ‘Well there you go. As the program coordinator, there’s your first (Miss Rodeo Canada) that you got to help along her way to getting crowned.’”
Brace said she was very happy for the opportunity to be a part of that support system and answer any questions Calvert had along the way.
However, she did not place much emphasis on the role she played.
“I can’t take too much credit, honestly.” said Brace. “Because she did a lot of the prep herself. She was very self-driven in her preparation for the competition. But it was nice to be there on the side, and being able to support her to check in and see how she was doing throughout the whole (process).”
Calvert, who steps into the role following former queen and Miss Rodeo Canada 2021 Alicia Erickson, encourages rodeo fans who might cross her path at events in the future not to be shy.
“If you see me down the road in 2022," she said, "make sure you say hi!’”