Meagan Peters experienced the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth in a way few people do.
The former Chestermerian has spent the last year as the Stampede Queen, an experience that culminates with the 10 days of the Calgary Stampede.
“I always wanted to be a part of it,” said Peters.
She first dreamed of being a Queen or Princess while watching the Stampede Parade as a little girl growing up in Chestermere.
“I always watched the parade, seeing the royalty on their horses…that was a huge inspiration for me,” said Peters.
Her desire to participate in the Stampede’s Rodeo Royalty program was only increased as she saw the transformations that occurred to friends of hers who went through the program.
“A lot of my friends had gone through the program and they had had a complete transformation from the beginning of the year to the end,” she said, “just a ton of personal growth.”
“It inspired me tremendously to go through the program,” said Peters.
She ended up audition for Stampede Queen before she finally made it into the program.
“It was a lot of work,” she said, “it was definitely worth it.”
To help her in the competition, she took a public speaking course in May of 2016 just prior to her last audition.
Along with the added confidence from the course, Peters was aided in her audition by previous experience as one of the Calgary Stampede Show riders and her time in 4H.
“A lot of horse riding background,” she said.
Although her reign as queen lasts a year, the busiest and best part is the Stampede.
“Everybody talks about Stampede being the greatest experience of the entire year and they’re definitely right,” she said.
The entire Rodeo Royalty team attended between 10 and 15 events each day.
By comparison, before the Stampede kicks off, the Queen and Princesses might do 2 events in a day.
“Stampede was one thing after another but a lot of fun,” said Peters.
“Everything we did was so much fun.”
Even though she moved to Calgary just before becoming the reigning 2017 Queen, Peters and her Princesses spent the Stampede week in a downtown Calgary Hotel.
Each day they would leave the hotel between 6 and 7 a.m. to attend four or five different Stampede breakfasts.
“So, we would only be there for 30 minutes to an hour and then go to a different part of the city,” she said.
After the breakfasts, they would make their way to the Stampede Grounds and prepare themselves and their horses for the Grand Entry for the afternoon Rodeo performance.
Throughout the performance, the royal team would visit with guests in the grandstand suites.
After the rodeo, they would head back to the hotel to get changed for the evenings Chuckwagon races and Grandstand Show.
Peters and her Princesses each had two nights that they spoke to the gathered crowd at the grandstand.
“That was a once in a life time experience to speak to that many people,” she said.
This experience was one of the highlights for Peters who said that after her first night speaking, she couldn’t wait for the next one.
Throughout both the rodeo and chuckwagons either Peters or the princesses would also travel to various presentations and awards across the Stampede grounds.
One of the perks of being part of the Rodeo Royalty was the chance to attend some of the concerts on the grounds.
“We went to Alabama, backstage, that was an amazing experience,” she said.
Although Stampede week is the busiest time, Peters and the rest of the rodeo Royalty attended about 400 events over the course of the year.
These events ranged from visiting schools or retirement homes to attending pancake breakfasts.
When they aren’t out at special events representing the Stampede, the Queen and Princesses spent their time working with and conditioning their horses.
Working with her horse was another exceptional experience.
The horse that she was paired with was, like Peters, new to the Rodeo Royalty trio.
“She had never experienced stampede, she’d never experience fireworks or crowds to that level,” said Peters.
“She’s 6 and for her to just go through that experience and she never faltered, I’m super proud of her,” said Peters.
To guide a new horse through the Stampede experience and prepare her for next year’s trio was another once in a lifetime experience in a year of new and unique experiences.
Like her friends who inspired her, Peters feels that she has grown as a person from this experience.
“From four years ago when I started this whole adventure, I was a pretty shy person,” she said, “I would have been afraid to walk into a room and meet a bunch of new people.”
She said that now she has the confidence and experience to put herself out there to meet new people.
Going forwards, she said that she’ll always remember the relationships built with the volunteers and committee members.
“They become pretty much your family for the year,” said Peters.
While her reign as Queen is drawing to a close, Peters plans to continue to be involved with the Stampede as a volunteer.
Another dream for Peters, now that she has been Stampede Queen, is to join the Cowboy Up Challenge.
The challenge is a circuit showcasing different riding skills that culminates in an event at the Stampede.
“If I could make it to the Cowboy Up Challenge at Stampede that would also be a dream of mine,” said Peters.