Here at your local member-owned cooperative, we love telling stories about our members. They’re who we are here to serve and what make us special. One such story is about Paige Petrocco, current Larimer County Fair & Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) Rodeo Queen.
Paige is a Colorado native, having moved from Thornton to Loveland about 10 years ago. “I’m very fond of Larimer County and Northern Colorado. I’ve gotten into horses and found my pace up here,” said Paige. After settling in, she soon went through a phase we’re all too familiar with. “Every little girl wants a pony, we all go through that,” she said. But soon realized there was much more to it.
Paige first got into horses by attending a pony camp so she could ride with friends from 7 in the morning to 7 at night. She then started participating in 4-H and signed herself up for anything to do with horses. “I think I might have closed my eyes the first time I showed a horse at fair,” she admitted.
By age 14 she had found a horse in Berthoud. “She wasn’t trained. She just had a baby. She was super aggressive. She was meant to scare me off.” Yet there must have been something between these two. Paige went into the pasture, called her name and Layla came running. “We ended up buying her two months later. So, I broke that horse at 14.” And Layla is still the horse Paige queens on today.
After some years of showing competitively, Paige found a new passion in rodeo. “I’ve never done anything besides barrels that I’ve been so passionate about. I’ve shown horses for a long time and barrels is still fun every single time.”
Even though Paige is familiar with fairs and rodeos, she didn’t see herself as a soon-to-be queen. “I’m not very glamorous all the time, so that was very intimidating for me. But two years ago, one of my best friends was the queen and she said, ‘just do it for fun and see what happens.’”
So, she threw her hat in the ring. To be queen she first had to participate in a judged parade; then it was on to questions, speeches, modeling, horsemanship tests, and personal interviews; and finally a horsemanship competition. Paige jokingly said that “it’s a beauty pageant but our talents are riding horses,” but clearly there is more to it.
The focus of the queen is on their knowledge of rodeo, skills in horsemanship, and overall communication ability. The queen is the face and inspiration of the fair and rodeo. They are required to make public appearances, give speeches, communicate effectively with various groups of people, handle themselves with dignity, and act as a role model to continue a tradition that is part of the evolution of America’s cowgirl.
One of the duties Paige has come to truly love is engaging in community events. “It means the world to be able to go out and do these events and get invited to these events that matter and are important to people,” Paige said. “And I’m there, and I feel so humble. Like why do you want me here? That’s been my absolute favorite part of queening.”
After graduating from Front Range Community College this year, she plans to transfer to CSU to pursue a degree in communications. “Being queen has really helped me figure out what I want to do with my life. I want to go into promotions and communications, hopefully still in the rodeo world.”
One particularly favorite event experience was the National Western Stock Show. Out of 150 queens, Paige was one of only five that were awarded the very prestigious honor to go with the Grand and Reserve Champion steer to The Brown Palace. “That doesn’t happen, it was five of us out of 150 to go and sip tea with the cows.”
But there is one final duty of the queen that often gets overlooked – supporting a Larimer County Scholarship Program. And at your co-op, supporting education is
near and dear to us. Paige helps conduct fund raisers to financially support the scholarship fund with the goal of making it self-sufficient.
At the end of her term, Paige will be presented with her academic scholarship in honor of fulfilling her obligations as queen. “I definitely could not have gone through my schooling the way I have without knowing I would get this support.”
To help support Paige and future Larimer County Fair and PRCA Rodeo queens, please attend these upcoming events to help support them and their academic scholarship fund.
July 31: 2022 Larimer County Fair & Rodeo Queen Pageant & Horsemanship Competition
August 5: Queen’s BBQ Fundraiser: 6:30 PM at The Ranch
August 6–10: Larimer County Fair at The Ranch
August 8–10: 3 nights of the PRCA Rodeo
For details on the Larimer County Fair, visit their event webpage by clicking here: https://www.treventscomplex.com/events/larimer-county-fair