For Tara Hiatt and Cassidy Esposito, competing for their titles for the queen and attendant of the Elizabeth Stampede Rodeo was a labor of love. Each has a full resume of rodeo experience and a passion for the people involved with the Elizabeth …
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For Tara Hiatt and Cassidy Esposito, competing for their titles for the queen and attendant of the Elizabeth Stampede Rodeo was a labor of love. Each has a full resume of rodeo experience and a passion for the people involved with the Elizabeth Stampede, which is June 1-4.
Tara Hiatt — Rodeo Queen
Rodeo queen Tara Hiatt has felt the allure of the rodeo her entire life.
“I’ve always been into horses. Even when I was really little, my parents could tell I was going to be into them,” said Hiatt, a Kiowa resident.
She started riding when she was 5 and grew up attending the Stampede each year.
“I’ve looked forward to it every single year,” she said. “My parents went before me and then when I was born they started bringing me.”
Hiatt was on the Blazing Saddles drill team for four years. She also competed in gymkhana, which includes the speed pattern events of barrel racing, flags, pole bending and keyhole.
As a senior in high school — she graduated from Kiowa High School last week — she knew she wanted to be the face of the rodeo so dear to her heart.
“I competed because of how much I love this rodeo, that’s the only reason,” Hiatt said. “I’m not in it for the title, I’m in it because I love it so much.”
Cassidy Esposito — Rodeo Attendant
Determination and commitment might be two words to describe Cassidy Esposito, the 16-year-old who won the title of Elizabeth Stampede Rodeo’s attendant.
Although this was her first attempt at becoming Stampede royalty, Esposito had competed to be part of the Douglas County Fair and Rodeo royalty for three years before she won the title of Douglas County Fair and Rodeo princess.
Esposito, who lives in Parker, starting riding horses when she was eight.
“When my mom and dad moved out to Colorado they bought horses, and they’ve always had a small property,” she said. “They’ve always been right in my back yard. I learned from the beginning to take care of and love them.”
Because she is the attendant this year, Esposito can compete again next year for the top crown.
“Hopefully I’ll be able to pull it off,” she said. “It takes a lot of being classy and being humble. Once you’ve won a title, there’s still a lot of growth to do.”
Beyond a beauty contest
Hiatt and Esposito competed for a place in the Elizabeth Stampede royalty last September. They were assessed by three judges on public speaking, interview, rodeo knowledge — they had to take a written test — and grace.
“The majority of it is the knowledge part. As long as you’re able to articulate your knowledge, it’s easy,” Esposito said.
Hiatt prepared at home by “practicing modeling around then house. My mom would interview me, ask certain questions to see how I answered them,” she said.
The height of their reign began with the Elizabeth Stampede Community Rodeo and continues through the summer as they represent the Elizabeth Stampede at rodeos and events throughout Colorado and Wyoming. Their reign ends Dec. 31.
Both await the weekend of the rodeo with high anticipation.
“I’m looking forward to the people,” Esposito said. “The amount of volunteers and the passion they have. There is so much time and commitment involved.”
Hiatt described the part of the weekend she is most excited about in one word: “everything.”
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