All hail the Queen
It’s the summer that she would never forget.
In 1995, an unknown sophomore hailing from the Lahontan Valley achieved one of the biggest honors in high school rodeo when she was named the National High School Rodeo Queen after winning the state contest the month before. Loni Johnston Faught won six of the eight categories, capturing the crown with the largest margin in the history of the contest at that time more than 20 years ago. She took home the horsemanship, personal interview, impromptu question, modeling, overall appearance and overall personality honors during the contest, making her one of the best to ever grace the competition.
“When I heard that I won state, it was the first step in reaching some of my goals that I set when I was 6 years old,” the 1997 Fallon grad said. “To be able to carry that through the support of my family was a huge stepping stone for me. To go on and represent the state at nationals and win the title at the national competition, and compete at that level and represent my family and the state was a dream come true for me. It was one of those moments where hard work and commitment paid off.”
The experience from winning both crowns to the following year when she traveled the country as an ambassador of the National High School Rodeo Association was one of Faught’s greatest accomplishments while attending school in Fallon. It’s an opportunity that she wants Fallon’s youth to experience at an early age so that one day, another cowgirl from Fallon can not only become a state or national queen, but she can create her path to greatness after high school.
“That experience has opened so many doors in the communications field and media-related fields, which was something I wanted to go into before I became a mom,” said Faught, who graduated from BYU in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in communications and emphasis on sports broadcasting. “It’s opened a lot of avenues to have in my life.”
Those avenues included being the first-ever female announcer at the National High School Finals Rodeo, hosting and producing her own BYU sports TV show, placing in the top 5 percent of all bankers at Wells Fargo and conducting several rodeo queen clinics throughout the country.
For the first time in the Fallon Lions Club Junior Rodeo, girls will get that chance to begin their quest on becoming the next ambassador in rodeo, thanks to Faught and Travis and Jennifur Peek, who are running this year’s junior rodeo.
“That’s why this is near and dear to my heart and important to me because Fallon should have a junior rodeo queen, especially for a rodeo that’s so important,” said Faught, who won the Fernley junior rodeo queen contest. “It will carry them throughout life. It’s these things that have opened a lot of doors for me in my life. It’s just great skills for girls to have.”
The junior rodeo queen contest is open to girls, ages 6-13, and applications, which include a $20 entry fee, can be accessed online at http://www.fallonlionsclubjuniorrodeo.com. The application deadline is Aug. 20 and the rodeo runs over Labor Day weekend from Sept. 2-4 at Churchill County Fairgrounds. The queen contest is on Sept. 2 at 5 p.m.
Faught said girls will compete in four categories — prepared speech, horsemanship, overall appearance and overall personality — and unlike the typical junior rodeo, points from the queen contest will be added to the overall rodeo competition performance score.
“Experience is something you can’t replace,” Faught said. “The opportunity of being a rodeo queen is immeasurable and it’s a great conversation topic. We’re kind of a dying breed. It’s kind of a fun conversation piece.”