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Saturday, February 16 , 2019, 4:40 pm | Fair 61º

 
 
 
 

Quartet Saddles Up for Race to be Crowned 2015 Queen of Santa Maria Elks Rodeo

Candidates Sarai Calderon, Taylor Glines, Taelor Janes and Jasmine Rodriguez continue longtime tradition of raising money for youth recreation, service programs

The 2015 Santa Maria Elks Rodeo Queen contestants are, from left, Jasmine Rodriguez, representing the Kiwanis Club of Guadalupe; Taylor Glines, representing VTC Enterprises; Sarai Calderon, representing Your Orcutt Youth Organization; and Taelor Janes, representing Santa Maria Noontimers Kiwanis Club. Click to view larger
The 2015 Santa Maria Elks Rodeo Queen contestants are, from left, Jasmine Rodriguez, representing the Kiwanis Club of Guadalupe; Taylor Glines, representing VTC Enterprises; Sarai Calderon, representing Your Orcutt Youth Organization; and Taelor Janes, representing Santa Maria Noontimers Kiwanis Club. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

The Santa Maria Elks Rodeo season officially got under way Saturday night with the kickoff of a campaign for the four young ladies vying to be crowned queen and their sponsoring organizations raising funds for youth programs.

Approximately 200 people attended the signature kickoff dinner and auction at the Santa Maria Elks Lodge. At the festivities, Mayor Alice Patino presented the annual proclamation declaring May 1-31 as “Go Rodeo Days” and encouraging residents to don western apparel.

She noted the rodeo’s longtime role of supporting youth recreation and other programs in the Santa Maria Valley.

“That is so important and so valuable,” Patino said.

Since the rodeo’s start, the queen contestants and their supporters have raised money that provided scholarships, playgrounds and more for local youths in northern Santa Barbara County.

“It’s a long tradition and we have donated over $10 million that went to youth in our community,” said Peter Sterling, who is spearheading the queen contest again this year.

The 2015 queen candidates and sponsors are Sarai Calderon, Your Orcutt Youth Organization; Taylor Glines, VTC Enterprises; Taelor Janes, Santa Maria Noontimers Lions Club; and Jasmine Rodriguez, Kiwanis Club of Guadalupe. 

Saturday’s dinner signals the start of fundraising efforts by the candidates, their families, friends and sponsors through barbecues, drawings, dinners and other events. The crown goes to the top fundraiser.

Rodriguez, a junior at Righetti High School, is involved in the Righetti Marimba Band and Ballet Folklorico and volunteers with her church youth group. She lives in Guadalupe.

After high school she plans to attend Allan Hancock College and eventually transfer to a university with a goal of becoming a nurse at a mental health institution.

“It gives me a chance to give back to my community,” Rodriguez said of participating in this year’s contest, noting the Kiwanis Club’s important role helping her small city’s children in many ways.

Bobbie Lee Kelly, the 1951 Santa Maria Elks Rodeo Queen, was among those attending Saturday night's rodeo queen contest kickoff dinner at the Santa Maria Elks Lodge. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)
Bobbie Lee Kelly, the 1951 Santa Maria Elks Rodeo Queen, was among those attending Saturday night's rodeo queen contest kickoff dinner at the Santa Maria Elks Lodge. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Janes graduated from Arroyo Grande High School in 2012 and now attends Hancock College.

She has been involved in the American Cancer Society and the Girl Scouts. She also has participated in racing, starting in go-karts and becoming a three-time national race champion.

“I wanted to give back to the Lions because they’re out at my local racetrack where I race,” said Janes, who competes in hobby stock at the Santa Maria Raceway. “I’ve known them for many years and they do amazing things for the community.

“I just want to help them out.”

Glines, a sophomore at Orcutt Academy High School, hails from a family long involved in the queen contest — her grandfather, Jim, ran it for years and her dad, John, oversaw several contestants’ campaigns.

She has participated in 4-H and played for her high school volleyball team. After high school, she plans to study business and then earn a master’s degree.

For now she’s focused on the queen campaign, and recalls attending events as a youngster sporting pink boots and a cowgirl hat.

“I’ve been dreaming of this since I was a little girl,” said Glines, adding that she looks forward to helping VTC earn money since the organization makes a difference in individuals’ lives.

Calderon, a Righetti High junior, plans to major in animal science in college and minor in either dairy science or tree science.

She has been been active in FFA and played on the Warriors’ soccer team. Through her activities, she said she has learned leadership and public-speaking skills.

“I am overjoyed to be representing my organization as well as giving back to my community,” she said.

The 72nd Annual Santa Maria Elks Rodeo is May 28-31 at the Santa Maria Elks/Unocal Event Center. The queen will be crowned during the second rodeo performance, May 29.

“Let’s all join together and make it the biggest and best one of all time,” Elks Club Exalted Ruler Dick Parker exclaimed.

Organizers named Cotton Rosser, the longtime stock contractor for the rodeo and owner of Flying U Rodeos as the parade grand marshal. He also will be recognized at the May 29 performance.

Other rodeo honorees are Dan Suchecki from Coca-Cola Distributing, on May 28; Jim Glines from Community Bank of Santa Maria on May 29; and Luke Branquinho, five-time world champion steer wrestler from Los Alamos, on May 31.

This year’s field of queen candidates seeks to succeed reigning queen Megan Morgan, from Your Orcutt Youth Organization. Morgan had some tips for those seeking to replace her.

“Just have fun — go out there and raise money for your organization,” she said, advising the quartet of queen candidates to get used to public speaking.

Among the former queens in the audience Saturday night was Bobbie Lee Kelly, who won the title for the 1951 rodeo. On Saturday night she proclaimed it “just as good as it was 64 years ago.”

Decked out in a western shirt and jeans, Kelly expressed gratitude for the “wonderful things” done by the Elks for local youths.

“We need help raising kids — not just today but in the old years, too,” she said.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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