IRON RIVER, Mich. (WJMN) – A big part of the U.P. Championship Rodeo is Rodeo Royalty. Young ladies from across the Midwest compete for the titles of Miss U.P. Rodeo Queen and Princess.

“It is so bittersweet,” said 2022 Miss U.P. Rodeo Queen Zoey Poupore. “It means so much to me. I’ve worked very hard to get to where I am today and to have that hard work pay off. It is just speechless.”

Poupore was crowned Miss U.P. Rodeo Queen at last year’s rodeo.

“When everything settled down after crowning, I was like ‘That’s what I just competed for. That’s where all my hard work is, and now I’m here and I get to represent this rodeo for the whole year. I don’t think it ever truly settles in,” expressed Poupore.

Over the last year, Poupore has traveled all over the U.P. and the Upper Midwest attending events and other rodeos representing the U.P. Championship Rodeo. Before she was crowned as the 2022 Miss U.P. Rodeo Queen, she began preparing a whole year before in anticipation of the competition.

“It’s more than a beauty pageant. We get judged all weekend long. From interviews, to written tests to extemporaneous, impromptu questions. Those are random questions you are asked in the hot seat of things. We get to perform a horsemanship pattern, public relations, appearance, it all adds up.”

U.P. rodeo royalty wouldn’t be where it is without Queen Coordinator Caitlyn Havelka. Starting at a young age, Caitlyn competed for and won many rodeo royalty titles. In 2018, she was crowned Miss U.P. Rodeo Queen.

“I initially started going to rodeos in 2008 when my grandparents first took me, and I started competing for different titles the following year,” said Havelka. “And I think that continued for I think it was 12 years before I was like ‘Alright, I’m ready to hang my hat up.’ But that kind of prepared me to take over and run the pageant here. It’s been a journey, but I’m so thankful to be involved because it’s been a huge part of my life, and this provides me a different way to still stay active with it.”

The queen pageant is open to young women ages 16 to 24 while the princess pageant is open to girls ages 11 to 15. The 2023 Miss U.P. Rodeo will receive a $1,000 scholarship, award belt buckle, a traveling crown and chaps.

“We are going to have a bunch of contestants coming from all over the U.S. Along with our great queens, we have four contestants who will be joining us for the weekend who will be vying for the next titles of Miss U.P. Rodeo and Rodeo Princess. So, you’ll get to meet them. We’ll also have some visiting royalty from different local rodeos as well as the first Miss Rodeo Michigan to be traveling in quite some time. So, we’re pretty excited for a weekend full of just action-packed adventure,” Havelka said.

The crowning of the 2023 Miss U.P. Rodeo Queen and U.P. Rodeo Princess will be on Saturday, July 8 at 6:30 p.m. CST at the rodeo arena in Iron River. To learn more about Miss U.P. Rodeo, click here.