Katy Nesbitt
The La Grande Observer

JOSEPH — A change of venue due to soggy conditions didn’t dampen the spirits of Deidre Schreiber or Rylee Goller, the 2018 Chief Joseph Days Rodeo court, as they neared the end of the competition to see who would be this year’s queen.

When the Joseph Rodeo Grounds’ Harley Tucker Arena was deemed too wet to be safe on the morning of April 14, the riding competition was moved to the Wallowa County Fairgrounds arena in Enterprise.

The fairgrounds’ arena was well groomed and fairly dry by the time the girls were in the saddle Saturday morning.

The clouds broke just as Schreiber and Goller began riding their reining patterns and grand entry run-ins. Each took a couple turns moving calves from one end of the arena to the other — one of the real cowgirl jobs the Chief Joseph Days Rodeo Court executes during the four-night, late July event.

The girls were judged on their riding as well as on ticket sales, personal interviews and speaking.

Saturday evening, it was Schreiber who was crowned the 2018 court queen at the Joseph Community Center. The coronation followed a dinner and style show of some of the girls’ outfits they will be wearing this summer as ambassadors of Wallowa County’s biggest summer event.

Schreiber, a junior at Enterprise High School, and Goller, a junior at Wallowa High School, each claimed a spot on this year’s court back in August. Over the winter the girls practiced their riding skills, etiquette, makeup and hair techniques (including every past court member’s favorite beauty secret: carpet tape to hold Western hats on tightly during run-ins).

Members of past courts from former decades were on hand to tell tales of their experiences on the court, including a harrowing story of a horse who had his own idea of how to march in a parade, told by Shantay Jett.

At Saturday night’s event, Tim Marshall received a custom-made pair of Justin Boots in recognition of his exceptional service to the Chief Joseph Days Rodeo as a volunteer. His daughter Abby gave a touching tribute, referring to all of the years of barbecuing dinners for the hospitality tent where rodeo cowboys and cowgirls along with sponsors, volunteers and members of the press enjoy home-cooked meals and cold beer during the nights of the rodeo.

Food is always available for hungry volunteers during the work parties in the evenings leading up to the rodeo.

John Growney, former stock contractor to the rodeo and long-time friend of the community, was named grand marshal for July’s main parade. Growney lives in Northern California and was unable to make the coronation, so a recording of his acceptance was shown at the dinner.

Schreiber and Goller will be ready for their July debut, in handmade suede parade regalia of denim blue paired with floral Western shirts and boots ordained with turquoise Native American patterns.

The 2018 Chief Joseph Days Rodeo begins with the traditional Bucking Horse Stampede down Joseph’s Main Street at 1 p.m. July 24. Four nights of Pro Rodeo Cowboy Association sanctioned events begin at 7 p.m. July 25-28.

For more information and to order tickets, visit www.chiefjosephdays.com.