Just before the first loud boom exploded at the 93rd Sidney Iowa Championship Rodeo in Sidney, Iowa, Aug. 2, Paige Pauley, 21, of Honey Creek, Iowa, waved to the crowd in the grandstands while taking the final lap around the arena after being crowned the 2016 Miss Sidney Iowa Rodeo Queen.
    
“I’m speechless,” Pauley said before riding in her first grand entry as the rodeo queen. “To be titled the queen here, there’s just not words to express just how honored and happy I feel.”
    
Pauley, who is the daughter of Pat and Sandy Pauley, grew up on a horse farm and has not only been riding horses since a young age, but she’s also attended the Sidney rodeo for as long as she can remember.
    
“It’s one thing to watch the rodeo from the stands, but getting to be a part of this great rodeo would be something I would always treasure,” she said. “There is a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication that is put into this rodeo to make it such a huge success.”
    
As Pauley grew older her riding ability, knowledge and skills advanced. She eventually started training the horses on her farm and gave riding lessons to people. She was a member of 4-H and earned many trophies, including Champion finishes in Senior Reining and Senior Western Pleasure in 2011. She was a member of the Woodbine Saddle Club Fire and Ice Equine Drill Team for four years. She was also a leader of a youth equestrian drill team for children under 16 years old where they traveled to rodeos in Iowa, Kansas and Missouri performing their flag routines on horseback.
    
In 2013, she was crowned Miss Teen Rodeo Iowa and won the Horsemanship portion of the contest. In 2014, she earned the title of Miss Interstates Rodeo Association and traveled to rodeos in the surrounding states every weekend with a stock contractor. In 2015, she was crowned Miss AKSARBEN Rodeo and won the Horsemanship portion of the competition. During her reign as Miss AKSARBEN Rodeo, she attended many Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rodeos in Iowa, Nebraska and Wyoming and represented at the Justin Boots Championship Rodeo and Wrangler Champions Challenge Finale in Omaha, Neb., in September 2015.
    
Pauley said serving as a queen has been a life-changing experience and it’s also been an opportunity to promote the sport of rodeo.
    
“I am so passionate about rodeo, horses and the western way of life,” she said. “I love that feeling of riding in the arena and waving to all the fans and helping out with whatever is needed.”
    
In three years Pauley earned a bachelor’s degree from the College of Saint Mary in Omaha where she majored in human biology and minored in psychology. This month she’ll continue her education in the two-year physician’s assistant program at Saint Mary. Was was also a member of the cross country team at her college.
    
In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, reading, playing cards, trap shooting, boating, swimming and attending as many rodeos as she can.
    
During the Sidney rodeo queen contest, Pauley was also awarded prizes for winning the Appearance and Horsemanship categories.
    
Pauley said the Sidney rodeo has been a statewide tradition and a part of Iowa’s heritage in the celebration of the western way of life in the Midwest. She she’ll strive to get more youth involved and more fans in the rodeo stands.
    
“Being a part of this grand rodeo would truly be such an honor and an experience I would always hold dear,” she said. “I know that being a rodeo queen means that you are willing to help out and be flexible with anything asked of you. I truly love the sport of rodeo and I thank God for all the blessings he has given to me, and for the ability to compete and represent something that is so important to me … rodeo.”