Santa Maria Elks Rodeo Queen candidates
The 2021 Santa Maria Elks Rodeo Queen candidates are, from left, Isabelle Gamino, Chloe LeMaire, Avery Nelson and Faith Totorica. (Santa Maria Elks Rodeo photos)

The four candidates seeking to become the next Santa Maria Elks Rodeo Queen made their annual April debut but will have three additional months in their campaign to capture the crown.

Instead of a June deadline, the contestants in the race to replace the 2020 Queen Faith DeBrum, who was sponsored by VTC Enterprises, will have three addition months to raise funds since the 78th annual rodeo has been moved to Labor Day weekend.

This year’s candidates and their sponsoring organizations are Isabelle Gamino for Kiwanis Club of Guadalupe, Chloe LeMaire for Northern Santa Barbara County United Way, Avery Nelson for St. Joseph High School and Faith Totorica for Santa Maria Nooontime Kwanis Club.

Typically, the queen kickoff signals the start of an intense time to raise money through raffles, barbecues and other events as the crown goes to the top fundraiser.

Last year’s candidates, along with their families and supporters, raised $440,059, pushing the total to $13.5 million raised through the decades to support youth recreation and other programs.

Nelson is a junior at St. Joseph High, where she plays on the varsity soccer team and belongs to the California Scholarship Federation Club and National Honor Society.

After high school she hopes to attend Baylor University or a military academy with a goal of becoming a nurse and possibly attending medical school.

Nelson said St. Joseph is “near and dear to my heart,” adding she is thankful for the partial scholarship that allows her to attend while working to maintain good grades.

“I am blessed to be able to help raise money to give other students the opportunities that I’ve been given,” she wrote. “I have grown so much as a student and a person of faith. I have a community that believes in me, who, even when this pandemic struck, worked tirelessly to give me the best chance I could have and gave me back my junior year on campus.”

Nelson is the daughter of Jamie and Bob Nelson, who represents the Fourth District on the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors.

LeMaire, a junior at Righetti High School, has raised goats with 4-H Club and swam for the Warriors swim team. She also works as a lifeguard at the Santa Maria Valley YMCA and for the Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Department.

After graduating high school, she plans to attend Santa Barbara City College for a marine welding certification, and then transfer to a four-year university to work toward a degree that will provide flexibility to travel and experience various cultures and people around the world.

Enrolling in an American Sign Language course at Allan Hancock College sparked the idea for her campaign.

“I’m thrilled to share that this year’s campaign will focus on literacy and supporting the deaf and hard of hearing youth within our school districts,” LeMaire wrote.

She is the daughter of Theresa and Neal LeMaire.

Totorica is a sophomore at Righetti High and a member of the Warriors swim, water polo and softball teams.

She also is an active member of the Orcutt Polo Association and a travel softball team, CA Velocity.

Additionally, she volunteers at Pacific Christian Center and Special Olympics competitions.

After high school, Totorica plans to attend a four-year university and continue her education for a career in the medical field.

“My parents, Audrey and Nathan Totorica, have been such great role models in teaching me to put others before ourselves and to help others in times of need,” she wrote.

“The Santa Maria Kiwanis Noontime Club supports schools, youth, sports, organizations and clubs in our community. I am extremely blessed to have the chance to represent this amazing organization throughout the campaign.”

Gamino is a senior at Pioneer Valley High School and has been active in FFA and various Christian clubs on campus.

After graduation she plans to attend Hancock College to complete her general education, and then transfer to SBCC to accomplish her goal of becoming a radiology technician.

“I suffered from a medical condition as a child and I was terrified of the continual scans that I was required to take,” she wrote, adding that she wants to comfort others.

“I plan on working for a hospital, where I can comfort and support others in their time of need,” she said.

Gamino is the third generation member of her family to seek the rodeo crown, with prior contestants including her mother, aunt and cousins.

“I am grateful for this opportunity to represent a wonderful organization that shares my love and passion for serving the community and especially the youth,” she wrote. “It is the mission of Kiwanis Club of Guadalupe to support various clubs, sports, schools, youth and churches.”

Gamino is the daughter of Leticia and Jose Gamino.

The Elks Rodeo is scheduled for Sept. 2-5 at the Santa Maria Elks/Unocal Event Center, with the queen to be crowned Sept. 3. Click here for more information.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.