Calgary Stampede Queen Jessica Williams, Princess Danielle Kakoschke and Princess Catherine Morneau share their insights on their reign so far
By Lisa Taylor
Little kids love pretty girls and the Grade 1 students at Percy Pegler Elementary School in Okotoks were no exception. On May 5, the 2013 Calgary Stampede Queen and princesses looked especially like royalty with their long, curly hair, leather dresses and silver belt buckles as they were met with smiles and admiration by the children. Although they looked like they’d walked straight out of a magazine, they were there for a purpose – to teach the kids about western heritage while reading stories and answering probing questions such as, “Why are you dressed like that?” or “How old are you?”
Living the dream
Back in October, Jessica Williams (22), Danielle Kakoschke (22) and Catherine Morneau (23) had their wildest dreams come true when they were crowned the 2013 Calgary Stampede Queen and princesses respectively.
For Queen Williams, she had already tried out the year before, which she says made her want it even more. “I had a taste of what the competition was like, so the fact that I became Queen was definitely amazing for me.”
All three ladies were extremely happy and surprised when their names were called; however, Princess Morneau says that because she is originally from Quebec, she was definitely astonished when she won.
“The fact that I wasn’t from Calgary and I was still kind of struggling with my English sometimes made me think that it was something that they wouldn’t like,” Morneau says. But looking back on it now she says that being able to speak French probably gave her an advantage in the competition. “I think they are really excited about the bilingual side of me,” she says adding that it comes in handy for events such as today when she read a book in French to a class at Percy Pegler School.
A balancing act
Williams currently lives in High River and juggles her time between working as a dental assistant at Signature Smiles and living the busy life as Queen.
“Everyone at work has been extremely generous with giving me time off,” Williams says. “I’ll be working less and less as it gets closer to Stampede, but it’s definitely doable.”
Similar to Williams, Princess Kakoschke, who is originally from Okotoks, also has a lot on the go as she works towards obtaining her Human Resources Management certificate with a major in Law and Society at the University of Calgary.
“I did end up balancing both school and being a Princess, but in retrospect, I would probably tell someone not to worry about the school part or even a certain job that they have,” Kakoschke says. “School will always be there, but this is only a one-year commitment.”
Princess Morneau also has a job working as an esthetician at a spa in Canmore; however, when everything started getting too busy, she cut down her hours there to just work part-time.
All three girls agree that some of the best times they’ve spent together have been during their many travel adventures. It’s so great to get the chance to go places you’ve never been and to do things you’ve never done,” Morneau says.
The royalty were given the opportunity to travel to Houston, Texas where they promoted the Calgary Stampede at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. However, being at the rodeo was not the only adventure they went on. They also got to ride camels in their spare time, which Morneau wrote on her blog that they absolutely loved, but added that they much prefer their trusty steeds.
Right after travelling to Houston, the girls were flown off to Las Angeles to promote Calgary’s western heritage at an L.A. Kings hockey game, which all agree was a night to remember. One of the highlights of the game was when Williams got to ride on the Zamboni in front of thousands of hockey fans while practicing her Queen wave.
“The L.A. game was really special,” Morneau says. “People didn’t understand who we were. They thought we were ice girls or dancers or the Dixie Chicks!” But she says that that’s exactly why they travel – to make people more aware about who they are and to try and get people to come to Calgary for the Stampede.
Advice for the 2014 contestants
Applications for next year’s contestants will open up in June, and although the current royalty are sad to talk about the day when they must pass along their crowns, they were more than happy to give some advice to the future contestants.
“When you sign up for the competition, it’s a youth development competition, so they’re not looking for girls who are perfect, thank goodness!” Williams says as all the girls laugh and nod in agreement. “So if you’re debating whether or not to do it, just go for it!”
Morneau adds that the competition might seem like a personal competition at first, but she states that it is really all about being a team player. “If they think that it will be all about themselves, then it is really not the completion for them,” she says.
In fact the title of being either a Queen or a Princess doesn’t really make a difference at all. Williams says that the only real difference is that sometimes she has to wear a different coloured outfit and apart from that, they really consider themselves to be one strong team.
Right after the crowning, the girls went through intense public speaking training and were educated on all the things they needed to know in order to promote the Calgary Stampede properly. Although all of that was great, Willams says she is really looking forward to the summer when they will get to become more involved with their horses and says they have been riding at least twice a week in order to prepare.
“I’m so excited for rodeo season to start when we get to do parades and grand entries and just do more with the horses,” Willams says, adding that she can’t wait for the Calgary Stampede to do the grand entry.