Woodlake rodeo queen is hometown cowgirl
This year’s Woodlake Rodeo will be ruled by a hometown queen.
Amanda “Mandy” Lawrence, 21, of Woodlake was crowned Queen of the 60th annual Woodlake Rodeo during a coronation ceremony on May 4. The daughter of Phil and Linda Lawrence, Mandy grew up in Woodlake where she has been riding horses since she could sit up. She has shown horses all her life, from equitation and horsemanship, to reining, reined cowhorse, cutting and rodeo. She has been riding her favorite horse Bull since she was 9 years old, winning local horse show championships, junior rodeo championships and multiple reined cowhorse championships as a young girl. Mandy and Bull are multiple National Reined Cowhorse Association World Horse Show Qualifiers, placing 3rd in the NRHCA World Youth Bridle in 2004 and again in 2007 in Stephenville, Texas. The duo was also named NRHCA National South Western Youth Champions and Valley Cowhorse Youth Champions.
Mandy also loves rodeo and competed in the California High School Rodeo Association in barrel racing, pole bending, breakaway roping, team roping and cutting and qualified for the state finals every year.
After high school, Mandy rode for the College of the Sequoias Equestrian Team and was named the California Regional High Point Rider in 2011. In 2011, Amanda enrolled at Fresno State University where she is studying agriculture education with an emphasis in animal science. In her first year at FSU, Mandy rode as a member of the Fresno State Equestrian Team. This year, she is president of the Fresno State Rodeo Team.
“I thank God and my family and friends for all the opportunities I have experienced as a youth,” she said. “I look forward to my future in rodeo and hopefully teaching kids about agriculture, horses and rodeo.”
Kaycee Hilvers, 19, of Tipton was named this year’s 1st Princess for the Woodlake Rodeo. The daughter of Nick and Tricia Hilvers, the college sophomore studying photography at Azusa Pacific University in Southern California. Audra Walker, 18, of Visalia was named this year’s 2nd Princess.
The Golden West High School senior is the daughter of Richad and Julie Walker. This year’s Rodeo Queen Court also include Cassie Flores, 16, of Exeter and Stevie Leigh Sweeney, 16, of Woodlake. Flores is the daughter of Sheri Loop and Edward Flores of Exeter and is a sophomore at VTEC High School. Sweeney is the daughter of Steve and Yvonne Sweeney of Woodlake and a sophomore at Woodlake High School.
Queen Mandy will appear at the Woodlake Lions Rodeo on Mother’s Day Weekend, May 11-12, and represents the rodeo at events and parades throughout the year. The princess court of horsewomen accompany the Rodeo Queen in the Woodlake Western Days Parade and Rodeo. The Queen is honored with a sparkling tiara, a beautiful belt buckle and a finely tooled saddle donated by Valley Business Bank.
Queen contestants are judged on three criteria: horsemanship, poise and personality and ticket drawing sales. To be eligible, applicants must be between 16-24 years and unmarried. Each year young women from throughout the Central Valley are encouraged to apply.
The Queen contest is structured to be educational and fun for participants. Starting in early February, the contestants attended several workshops and meetings to strengthen their horsemanship abilities, gain greater poise and learn all aspects of the contest process.
If a candidate is not crowned as Rodeo Queen, she has the option to compete in the next year’s competition. Several past Rodeo Queens have competed in two years of competition before being crowned. Further information about the queen contest is available at WoodlakeLionsRodeo.com or at the Woodlake Lions office, 559-564-8555.