Everyday Morgan resident Shantel Watkins, 21, sees the new white chaps hanging on her closet door reminding her of her reign as Oakley Independence Day Rodeo queen. Sometimes, she peeks inside the padded box at her crown worth several hundreds of dollars.
But then she’s off to fulfill her duties as the reigning queen of a PRCA rodeo. Next on the list is Coalville’s PRCA rodeo Aug. 8 and 9, where she will ride in the grand entry at the beginning of the rodeo, sign autographs, mingle with the crowd, and maybe even push cows for the roping event.
And there is probably a little girl in the crowd that will stare wide-eyed at the rodeo queen, who as a kindergartener at Morgan Elementary used to get rides home on horseback with her mother.
Rural living in Morgan County prepared Watkins well for her reign, she said. So, too, have her reigns as the Morgan Fair queen in 2009, Morgala Days royalty in 2011, Cowboy Days Royalty in 2012, and first attendant at the Oakley Rodeo last year.
Watkins comes from a family steeped in rodeo tradition. Her father, Shayne Watkins originally from Plain City, was a bareback rider. Her mother, Collett, raced barrels. Both of her brothers ride bulls, one of them bucking bulls at that. And there are a whole slew of ropers in the family as well, she said.
The 2011 Morgan High School graduate was crowned Oakley’s queen March 22, after a grueling horsemanship round that was both the most challenging and rewarding part of the whole contest.
Watkins said her horse had been a little lame prior to the contest, so she had not had a chance to ride the week of the pageant. However, she won that portion of the contest. She was also the only contestant to answer an impromptu question correctly.
Oakley Independence Day Rodeo Queen Pageant included horsemanship, personality, appearance, three-minute speech, modeling, impromptu question, and personal interview portions.
Her speech highlighted the benefits of rodeo and why she loves it so much.
“The biggest thing is the camaraderie,” Watkins said. “We are in one big family, and everyone knows everyone else,” a lot like her Morgan hometown, she said. She also said rodeo is a sport that displays patriotism, and encourages participants to be hard-working, good people.
Along with first attendant Carly Peercy of Taylorsivle and second attendant Haley Johnson of Midway, Watkins reigned over the 79thannual Oakley Rodeo and 4thof July celebration. She also represented Oakley at rodeos in Pleasant Grove and Lehi.
At the age of 14, Watkins said she “fell in love” with Oakley’s rodeo.
“It is the perfect rodeo to me,” said Watkins, of Porterville. “There is good stock, clowns, and it sells out each night.”
Many Morgan residents make a point to attend Oakley’s rodeo, and other Morgan young women have reigned as queen of the event.
“A lot of people know it is a fun rodeo,” she said.
Watkins is studying at Weber State University and plans to continue pursuing her elementary education degree at Western Governor’s University. She also works locally at Ridley’s and credits a lot of her success to Jeff Wadman and Jon Cannon at Graceland Equestrian Center.
She was the first to wear the new Oakley white chaps, but will have to pass them and the crown on to the next queen in the spring of 2015.