“I just love horses. I always have. I’ve been riding in horse shows ever since I was two years old. I was born into it, actually, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ll always be involved with horses.”
Affection for horseflesh and the Western way of life is most obvious in a brief visit with 19-year-old Brooke Wallace of New Cambria.
“I really want everybody to know what horses actually do offer and how important they are to our Western heritage, and a way of life,” contended Wallace.
So, what better way to fill that personal niche objective than as a rodeo queen?
“I’ve been entering local horse show mini queen contests since I was about seven-years-old. But, after enrolling at K-State last year, I decided I’d like be become involved in rodeo queen pageants and hopefully become a real rodeo queen,” explained Wallace, who’ll be a sophomore this fall studying apparel and textile design.
Consequently, Wallace signed up for the Junction City Rodeo Queen Pageant.
“It was really a lot more difficult than I’d even envisioned. The competition was quite stringent, and the other three contestants were outstanding,” Wallace reflected.
Yet, after the four-member judges panel had tallied points from eight divisions, Brooke Wallace was crowned the 2014-15 Junction City Rodeo Queen to represent that group in spreading the good word about rodeo, horses and cowboy-cowgirl ways throughout the Midwest.
“I am just so thrilled. My heart was beating like a drum when the results were being announced during the Saturday night performance of the Junction City Rodeo there at the Geary County Fairgrounds in Junction City,” grinned Wallace in her seemingly forever pleasant outgoing manner.
“I am going to do my very best to represent the Junction City Rodeo Association, and I’m lining up personal appearances at rodeos and other functions everywhere. I’m so anxious to get requests to help in any way I can,” insisted Wallace, who already got her queen sash and crown into duty during the Kaw Valley Rodeo at Manhattan.
As significant as the rodeo queen recognition is to the beautiful talented cowgirl, it has also of very sentimental importance to Queen Wallace.
“My cousin DJ Prochaska was crowned as the 2001-2002 Junction City Rodeo Queen. She passed away from a terrible car accident, so that makes this honor extra special to me. I’m really doing it all in her memory, since I was very young when the accident happened. I feel connected to DJ through the rodeo queen pageants, because she was very passionate about competing, ” Wallace exclaimed.
“I’m even wearing DJ’s queen tiara on my hat, until my own new Junction Rodeo Queen crown is completed. That makes it all even more emotional for me, my family and most especially my aunt Sara Prochaska, DJ’s mom,” Wallace admitted.
Announcement of the queen title over the rodeo loudspeaker was climax to more competition than spectators could have ever realized.
Of course, it wasn’t just the pageant leading into the rodeo coronation, but considerable preparation, actually weeks, years and a lifetime, if all things are considered.
Contestants were evaluated on horsemanship, written test, impromptu questions, modeling, photogenics, personal interview, carrying flags around the arena at a full run and a horseback queen’s arena salute presentation.
“Every one of the contestants did a great job. It was really an outstanding group. So, I felt especially fortunate to win the horsemanship, photogenic and modeling divisions. But, I was still taken back when my name was announced as the new queen.
“However, I really think my family, they were all there, was as excited and as happy as I was,” Queen Wallace asserted.
Coronation ceremonies were hosted by the 2013-14 Junction City Rodeo Queen Blaze Taylor of Tonganoxie. Runner-up to the new queen is Lexi Luce of Augusta.
Luce and Tiffany Wapp, Frankfort, tied for first in the written test, both just missing one question. Wapp also topped both the impromptu question and personal interview categories.
The DJ Prochaska Miss Congeniality Memorial Award was voted on by the contestants and went to Olivia Wallace, Whitewater, who is no relation to the newly crowned rodeo queen.
As tokens for being crowned Junction City Rodeo Queen, Brooke Wallace received flowers, belt buckle, saddle with accompanying tack and the new crown, as soon as it is completed.
She also will wear Junction City Rodeo Queen traveling chaps, especially made and designed by her aunt Sara Prochaska.
“Wearing these chaps and DJs crown is really close to my heart,” Wallace iterated.
Among her many congratulates ringside at coronation were her aunt Sara and husband Robert Prochaska,momand dad Mark and Julie Wallace, older sister Sierra Wallace and of additional significance grandma Jane Wallace of Beloit.
“All of my family has been so very important to me in every part of my life, including riding and showing horses. My dad, sister, aunt and grandma have always ridden horses and participated in shows, still do today, even Grandma, who’s in her 70s. They are so supportive in offering helpful advice, and then compliments if I have a good ride,” Wallace appreciated.
En route to the title, Queen Wallace rode the nine-year-old sorrel gelding called Peppy that was raised and trained by her family and features several generations of the family horse lineage.
“Actually, Sierra claims to own Peppy, but she was nice enough to let me ride him, and he really did a great job for me. Peppy really is an all-around horse that works well in pleasure and speed events,” Wallace acknowledged.
However, recognition of her mount’s cooperation is a bit of a misnomer, especially for this cowgirl. She can just about ride any horse under her to make it and her look better than most.
Crediting Peppy again, Wallace said, “At horse shows, I do ride five different horses all owned by my family, and most of them are related for several generations. I try to ride about any horse, really. I just love them all. It keeps me on my toes riding the younger horses though.”
Initially, Wallace, barely able to hold on, was entered in lead line classes with dad Mark at tow. Then, the inborn cowgirl quickly proceeded to patterned events like the cloverleaf, flag race and keg bending, a family favorite class, with speedy-running Dad at shank, sometimes beating competitors without leaders.
Shortly, Wallace insisted she was “big enough” and could do ride without Daddy’s help, and has done it in winning fashion all of the way.
“We ride in most all of the Eastern Kansas Horseman’s Association shows throughout central Kansas, hardly ever miss a show. It is such a great family organization. There’s tough competition, and we all want to win, but everybody has a good time and cheers their competitors on, hoping to be a second faster, and place in the event.
“But, I’ve also always competed in other local open fairs,” Wallace related.
She rides in every event on the show bill. “I like them all, whether the speed events like the barrel race and keg bending, plus pleasure classes, reining, even English equitation and jumping. It doesn’t matter to me, as long as I’m riding my horse,” Queen Wallace verified.
Especially enjoyable for all of the Wallace family is the team events. “We always have a family relay team and ride in the rescue race and pair sack race. Dad is really good to get on in the rescue race, with Sierra, and I ride with him in the pair sack race.
“I’ve ridden in in the pair sack race with Dad since I was pretty young. We have an exact routine every time we go into the arena, and we rarely mess up, but it does still happen occasionally,” Wallace grinned again.
A quick unofficial tabulation, Wallace tallied, “I’ve been highpoint rider in my EKHA age division eight times, and reserve highpoint two times, I think. Then, I’ve won traveling trophies in other EKHA events, too.”
The Girl’s Queen Class is on some EKHA show bills, and Wallace has always entered since early grade school days. “It usually includes a pattern, sometimes rail work, and a queen’s run,” Wallace commented.
Throughout the years, Wallace hasn’t won every queen class, and she doesn’t have an exact count, but she’s collected the blue ribbon and flowers at a good share.
“They do have yearend point tabulations, and I’ve won the high point award in the EKHA queen class three of the last five years,” she noted, admitting her sister Sierra likely beat her the other times.
Of all her “great horses,” Wallace confessed, “Two Socks still stands out most in my memories. I rode him almost exclusively for about six years, and he would just do it all, whatever I’d ask, in whatever class I’d throw us in.”
“I really appreciate Peppy’s all-around ability, but Champ would still have to be my favorite horses right now. He’s lived on our farm 14 years, and is my primary speed event horse at this time,” Wallace commented.
Especially conscious to make every horse and every ride better than the previous one, Wallace noted, “I always get to ride Sara’s three-year-old horses as she is training them, which makes them more versatile with different riders, and helps improve my horsemanship skills, too.”
Well, those are all most pleasant memories for the Cowgirl Queen, but what about now and the future?
Living at home this summer, Wallace does childcare, and is serving as an intern at Aksent Boutique in Abilene. She lives in the Zeta Tau Alphas Sorority House, during the school year at Kansas State University in Manhattan.
“I really want to do everything I can to fulfill my queen duties. At the rodeos, I’ll usually carry a flag in the grand entry, present event sponsor flags before each event, drive the calves and steers back to the catch pen after those competitions and also intermingle with the crowd, talk about rodeo, sign autographs and encourage all of the children attending the rodeos,” Wallace said.
“I am booked for the Longford Professional Rodeo, August 29-30, and am looking forward to a full slate of activities promoting the sport of rodeo during my queen tenure. Whenever I’m asked to go someplace, I’ll do my best to work it into my schedule,” said Wallace, noting that college exams could occasionally get in the way.
Active in leadership of the K-State Rodeo Club, Wallace is the rodeo advertisingchairman and is called upon for many other roles in the diverse group’s many activities.
However, key on Queen Wallace’s agenda is the K-State Rodeo Queen Pageant. “I intend to compete for that title sometime while attending K-State, because I really want to do even more for the sport of rodeo, and especially the K-State Rodeo Club,” she emphasized.
Of course, that would lead to the national college rodeo queen pageant, and other queen contests. “It could be a year or two, but I’d also like to enter the Kansas Rodeo Queen pageant,” she added.
Fashion, clothing and modeling are most obvious whenever one sees Brooke Wallace. Whether brilliant green, orange, blue, whatever the color, her outfit matches bridle, breast collar, leg wraps on her mount.
Wallace is always notably coordinated, most conscious of hat, boot, and all Western apparel, with the straightest posture, whether walking to mount or horseback, and forever-apparent broadest, beaming, toothy smile.
“I’m concerned about everything, but hats just set off an outfit. I have both black and white hats, depending on the day, but they are always clean and perfectly shaped. I think something as simple as ‘the hat’ can often determine whether you win or lose,” Wallace commented.
Long term, Wallace looks to a career following her college major. “I’ve always been interested in fashion, especially Western clothing, so that’s what I’d really like to do. Even though, likely, I’ll have to start on the lower level working for a Western clothing firm, I can envision designing Western outfits sometime for a major company, or even on my own.”
Interestingly, not unlike her family horse genes, Western fashion is sort of all in the family, one could justifiably say. “Grandma (Jane) and Aunt Sara have always sewn horse show outfits, and still do now. They’re generally busy thinking of new ideas, and Sara now also makes chaps, and other leather apparel, about anything to do with horses. I guess you’d call it a family tradition,” Wallace evaluated.
Riding horses will always be part of her life, Queen Wallace guaranteed. “I hope to enter barrel racing at more rodeos and jackpots, and I really want to learn to rope. I’m actually just getting started roping, but I’d like to someday enter the roping events. Doug Muller, the K-State Rodeo Team coach, is a top roper, and I’d like to get him to help me.
“Whatever the future holds, I’ll be involved with horses and promoting everything to do with them. I just love the life,” Wallace summarized.
Her favorite Bible verse gives the best inside look at Junction City Rodeo Queen Brooke Wallace: Philippians 4:13: “I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.”