It is crazy that I only have four and a half days left till I am no longer Princess Stephanie Gray. This last week has been a roller coaster of emotion as I go from feeling excited to move forward with my schooling and starting to work, to terribly sad that I no longer get to represent The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. The girls and I attended over 450 events this year and had one of the most exhilarating and influential years of our lives. One of the most common and hardest to answer question we usually get is, “what has been your highlight of the year?” The obvious answer is, of course, STAMPEDE! We always say it because it was such an incredible 10 days for us and by far the best time of every day was galloping around the arena during Grand Entry and getting to speak in front of 20,000 people before the Chuckwagon races. However, I have decided that I wanted to make a quick list of some of the other highlights of my year that may not be so obvious:
I loved driving through Stampede Park all year as we would always meet at headquarters before an event. It was very cool to drive through right after we were crowned and watch the leaves change, to seeing the park covered in snow and fighting off the Hockey traffic on some nights, to watching the set up for all the Spring events including Aggie days, and then feeling so much excitement once the Midway Park was being built for Stampede. Driving through the park throughout the year was almost felt like a metaphor to how my year was, and now that I am coming to the end of my year I look at the Park very differently.
- Whit and I both got to drive a school bus thanks to Southland Transportation. We got to drive it through a sort of obstacle course to everyone’s horror. I was excited!
- At every Rodeo with a midway park, Whitney and I would always go on the Zipper.
- Going on a trail ride and tubing on the Shusawap while we were in Armstrong, BC.
- Being one of the judges at Eva’s Special during the Tsuu T’ina Pow Wow.
- Being able to speak at my old junior High, St. Gregory
- Gossiping in the back of Jenna’s car with the girls while we sat in the parking lot after numerous events.
- I know the words to many old songs including the Old Grey Mare, Bicycle Built for Two, and The Calgary Song as I sang to them every last Tuesday of the month in a different Seniors Home with the Promotion Committee. That was always a lot of fun.
- Starting in March every Tuesday and Thursday the girls and I would go out and ride our boys Hawk, Snoopy, and Kansas. Once it started getting nice out we started riding outside and having a lot of fun. Wendy also took us out to her beautiful property where we went on a great ride out there.
- Answering kid’s questions when we would go to schools as those were the best, and funniest questions ever.
- Wandering the Banff Springs Hotel when we stayed there for a Tourism event.
- Getting to escort all the Chuckwagon drivers up on stage during the Tarp Auction as I have watched many of them compete in previous Stampedes.
- Attending all the Giddy Up events that are put on for kids with special needs.
- Building a tipi with the girls during our training
- Getting invited to Cavalia’s opening night in Calgary. Especially since Jenna, Whit, and I were trying to think of ways to find money to buy tickets!
- Getting to know Mayor Naheed Nenshi who was always treated us with great respect, but wasn’t afraid to laugh with us. We all became very proud of our Mayor.
- Becoming best friends with Jenna, Whit, and Eva. Hands down this will always be the greatest highlight of my year.
This list is getting to be extremely long and I don’t even feel I have scratched the surface! Those are definitely some of my fondest memories, and while it makes me so happy I was able to experience those wonderful things I am sad to being say good bye to this journey as well. However, where our journey ends is the beginning of a journey for three more lucky ladies. I am so proud of the Top Six contestants currently competing to be the 2012 Stampede Queen and Princesses and wish them all the best of luck before the crowning on Sunday. I know they have a year’s worth of “highlights” coming to them…