“Rodeo is a very important sport for the animals, the contestants and the spectators.”
That firm belief is most apparent in one of the biggest supporter’s yet quite young enthusiastic advocates for Western entertainment.
Notably mature and most knowledgeable for her age, barely a teenager Sydney Wapp of Frankfort is Miss Rodeo Topeka.
“There is so much tradition in rodeo from ranch work necessity to the sport it is today,” declared the 13-year-old.
“People have said rodeo’s not a sport, but it really is,” Sydney insisted. “Those animal rightists who are so big on animal welfare claim rodeo livestock is mistreated. That’s the furthest thing from the truth.
“Owners of livestock used in rodeos care for their animals the very best. They love their horses and cattle and their livelihood depends on them,” Miss Rodeo Topeka insisted.
“Cowboys and cowgirls and rodeo spectators love the livestock,” she added. “The animals love what they do, too. There’s no question about it. Both the horses and cattle really do enjoy what they’re doing, and the good ones do their best every time.
“Rodeo broncs, bulls, even the roping and bulldogging cattle give it their all,” Sydney affirmed. “They love it; just try to leave any rodeo livestock at the ranch when team mates are loaded to go. The animals will sure pout about it, that’s obvious.”
Sydney has had a strong affection for horses and the rodeo world most of her life, expanding as she’s grown. “I started riding when I was three, and got my own horse when I was five,” Miss Rodeo Topeka reflected.
Riding on the family farm near Frankfort, Sydney soon started going to local horse shows. “I joined 4-H, and competed at the Marshall County Fair, and other 4-H events,” she remembered.
When her older sister, Tiffany, now 24, participated successfully in rodeo queen pageantry, Sydney first got the “rodeo queen bug.” She said, “It just bit me, and I knew I wanted to be a rodeo queen, too.
“Brook Wallace, who is the 2019 Miss Rodeo Kansas, has always been a big inspiration for me. She’s worn a number of rodeo queen crowns,” Sydney verified.
Always looking for rodeo pageantry opportunities, Sydney first competed for the El-Kan Rodeo Princess title at the Ellsworth Rodeo three years ago. “I was first runner-up, and it made me work harder to become a rodeo queen,” she claimed.
Dedicated effort paid off when Sydney was crowned the 2017-18 El-Kan Western Riders Rodeo Princess. “That was really a big honor, and I’ve been going to rodeos and horse activities promoting the sport,” she said.
When Sydney heard about the Miss Rodeo Topeka pageant, she was ready to enter. That is until she found out the competition was open to cowgirls from age 13, to 24.
“At first I thought I’m just way too young and inexperienced to be in a pageant with those older cowgirls,” Sydney remembered.
Determination and try took ahold. “I decided what can it hurt? It’ll be fun, an experience to learn and get better,” she added.
When competition started in conjunction with the Topeka Rodeo at the North Topeka Saddle Club, Sydney was mounted and ready.
“There were four parts to the pageant,” she said. “Horsemanship, interview, speech and test were included, and I did ok, really.”
That’s obviously a misnomer as 13-year-old Sydney Wapp was crowned Miss Rodeo Topeka. “It was a real thrill. I am so happy and excited,” she exclaimed, noting other activities with the pageant.
“We toured the capital, visited sponsors expressing appreciation for what they do and promoted rodeo as a sport,” Sydney said.
Mikayla Fox was first runner-up, while Mikaela Grueber was second runner-up in the pageant.
Crowning is just the beginning of the work for Miss Rodeo Topeka. “I’ll be traveling to United Rodeo Association (URA) rodeos, as a flag bearer, and helping move livestock,” she said. “I’ll also attend other horse activities to talk about and promote the sport of rodeo every way I can.”
That’s all in addition to her personal rodeo career and a busy teenaged Frankfort seventh grader. “I compete in the Christian Youth Rodeo Association,” Sydney said. “I ride in barrel racing, pole bending and breakaway roping.”
Not just compete, Miss Rodeo Topeka is also a rodeo arena winner. “My 13-year-old sorrel Quarter Horse mare Ginger is really an all-around horse,” Sydney insisted. “I did all right last year, but we’re really coming on now.
“I’m fifth in pole bending and 10th in barrel racing for the year to date. We’ve been to 16 rodeos, so there are only a couple more until the finals at Kingman in October,” she said.
Roping is a new event for the cowgirl. “Dad (Joe) built a sled that we put a bale of hay on with a dummy calf head,” Sydney related. “We also put together a kind of practice roping box.
“I can come out of the box on Ginger to practice roping the calf dummy sled Dad pulls around with the lawn mower.
“I haven’t placed in breakaway roping yet, but I’m getting better,” Sydney said.
Rodeo and queen pageants are a family affair. “Tiffany and my little sister Macey, 11, who also competes in horse speed events, are a big help,” Sydney appreciated. “I would not be able to do any of this without the help of my mom Jodie and my dad. Mom always coaches me, helps with my outfits, my hair and the makeup, so everything’s to perfection.
“Dad and mom help me all the time with my horses and Dad hauls me to rodeos around the state. I get so much special encouragement from my whole family. Our friend Sarah Czymrid has also been a great mentor helping me,” Sydney acknowledged.
As if that’s not enough, she’s a committed athlete playing volleyball, basketball and track. Sydney’s a school leader especially involved in efforts against bullying and alcohol abuse
A 4-H club officer, Sydney collected the reserve all-around championship at the 4-H horse show.
So young, Miss Rodeo Topeka anticipates lifelong involvement in rodeo. “I intend to participate in queen pageants, hopefully become Miss Rodeo Kansas, and then Miss Rodeo America. I’ll always promote rodeo as a great sport and compete in rodeo events,” Sydney guaranteed.