By CLAIRE ST. JOHN
A record field of nine will this year vie for the Mother Lode Roundup queen's tiara.
The young women were introduced to the public at the annual Roundup Kickoff at the Tuolumne County Sheriff's Posse Grounds yesterday.
Stephanie Weaver, 18, of Jamestown; Drew Kermeen,16, of Sonora; Nichole Horvath, 19, of Groveland; Toni Vermillion, 23, of Jamestown; Meagon Middleton, 18, of Altaville; Heather Hanlon, 20, of Oakdale; Jena Questo,17, of Sonora; Kayla Njirich, 17, of Sonora; and Kati Schroder, 16, of Sonora are in the running.
The queen will be chosen in May.
Scores are based 35 percent on horsemanship, 25 percent each on a fashion show and personality interview, 10 percent on impromptu interviews with judges and 5 percent on ticket sales, which break any ties.
The winner will receive the Mother Lode Roundup Queen tiara, a custom pleasure saddle, a silver belt buckle, a portrait and frame, $300 and Mother Lode Roundup chaps.
Beginning this month, the nine will represent the Roundup-sponsoring Sheriff's Posse at a series of events leading up to the May 8 and 9 Mother Lode Roundup.
The queen and her large court will lead the May 8 Roundup Parade and ride in grand entries for both the Saturday and Sunday rodeo sessions.
The 2003 queen, Caitlyn "Caity" Smith, attended yesterday's event.