Cortney Ingle chosen 2012 Miss Tonasket Founders Day Rodeo Queen

Cortney Ingle, the 2012 Miss Tonasket Rodeo Queen, is honored by 2011 Queen Jerian Ashley at the conclusion of Saturday’s ceremonies. Photos by Brent Baker

Cortney Ingle, the 2012 Miss Tonasket Rodeo Queen, is honored by 2011 Queen Jerian Ashley at the conclusion of Saturday’s ceremonies. Photos by Brent Baker

TONASKET – The 2012 Miss Tonasket Founders’ Day Rodeo Queen competition may well have come down to one, final impromptu question.

When asked whether or not it was more important for a rodeo queen to arrive on time or looking nice at an event, Cortney Ingle had the perfect answer.

“Well, in my opinion,” she replied, “if you’re on time, you had everything planned so you would be looking nice.”

Once the totals were tallied, Ingle, a 2010 Tonasket High School graduate, was crowned the 2012 Miss Tonasket Founders’ Day Rodeo Queen. Karlie Henneman was named runner-up in a competitive field that included Kayla Davis, Emily (Katie) Tietje and Breanna Howell.

Ingle succeeds 2011 Rodeo Queen Jerian Ashley.

“I just started shaking and crying,” Ingle said. “It’s something I’ve always dreamed of, so when I heard my name, it was like every little bit of happiness I ever had just exploded out of me.

“Just holding it together (through the competition) was tough. There was a lot of integrity – a lot of girls wanted help – and sometimes you just help each other because it’s the right thing to do.”

The Comancheros will provide Miss Tonasket a queen buckle, breast collar, parade flowers, a dozen roses, a traveling serape, a $400 mileage allowance, an $800 clothing allowance and a $500 scholarship.

The competition required the candidates to perform both in the rodeo arena and on stage in front of a packed house at the Tonasket Eagles Hall. Categories included reining, a presentation run, changing horses and reining with a borrowed horse, a private interview with the judges, delivering a prepared speech and answering the impromptu question.

“This was extremely close,” said Tonasket Comancheros President and Master of Ceremonies Mike Stansbury. “The winner had over 1100 points … and the runner-up was 12 points behind. This is how close this competition was. All the scores were right up there. There wasn’t 200 points between the winner and fifth-place finisher.

“They all did very well and should be proud of their performances.”

Ingle’s speech gave homage to the pioneer women that were her ancestors.

“The opening up of the West stirred the spirits of hope and discovery in many women,” she said. “They dreamed of looking out over a new horizon. They dreamed of rising before the sun made its showing to serve the land, and in return, to know it served them and their families. They dreamed of freedom, space and possibility.”

Ingle was inspired by the spirit of the pioneer women who became ranchers, doctors and rodeo legends.

“It’s not about history as much as about spirit of all women – no, every person,” she said. “(They) exchanged disappointment for faith, regret for hope, and defeat for courage.

This is the way of dreams. This is the way of a cowgirl. These are dreams that fill my heart.

“If I’m selected Rodeo Queen, you will be giving me the opportunity to keep alive the traditions of the West. And in return, and in the spirit of pioneer women, I will represent you well, by holding the reins with confidence and sitting tall in saddle.”

Henneman, who would take over as queen if for some reason Ingle could not fulfill her duties, spoke of the importance of being a role model and representing Tonasket.

“Everyone needs a role model or someone to look up to in their life,” she said. “As Rodeo Queen I believe I could be that someone.

“I want to honor and represent the town I was born and raised in: Tonasket. Holding the position of Rodeo Queen would give me that opportunity. It’s been an amazing place to grow up, and I want to give something back to my community. And what better way of doing it than doing something I love, rodeo and riding?”

Jerian Ashley led off the coronation festivities with an emotional farewell speech that she admitted was written as she greeted guests and showed off pictures and mementos of her 2011 reign.

“Some of you may have seen me writing over there. College doesn’t give you whole lot of time to write speeches,” Ashley said, waving a couple of handwritten pages. “So that’s what I was doing.”

Ashley traveled more than 3,100 miles last summer, using three of her own horses and borrowing six others while promoting the Tonasket Founders’ Day Rodeo.

“It’s been such an amazing experience,” she said. “Through snow, wind, rain and sun I kept a smile and my head held high, with a cloud of hairspray and occasional burn from the curling iron – thanks, Mom!”

Stansbury also named the Tonasket Comancheros’ annual award winners. Superior Auto Supply was named Business of the Year, The Father’s Ranch earned Organization of the Year and co-Club Members of the Year were Dee Johnson and Lyle Anderson.

Eight queens and junior queens from other rodeos were on hand for the coronation, including Miss Rodeo Washington Amanda Emerson, who also served as one of the judges.

But Saturday night, all eyes were on Cortney Ingle, who was already looking toward the year ahead.

“I’m looking forward to proving I can do it,” she said, “and giving everyone something to remember.”