Union Democrat staff

The Mother Lode Roundup is just around the corner, and the contests for 2018 Mother Lode Roundup Queen and Junior Roundup Queen have begun.

Five young women were introduced at a Queen Kickoff event on Sunday, four running for the Mother Lode Roundup Queen title and one for Junior Roundup Queen.

The contestants

Tommi Cover — Tommi, 18, is the daughter of Joe and Sherry Cover, of Tuolumne. She is a graduate of Rebus Academy and plans to continue her education to become a veterinary technician with equine training. Her interests include volleyball, drawing, photography and horseback riding, and she has earned ribbons for her performance at gymkhana competitions.

“I would love the opportunity to represent our county as the 2018 queen,” she said in her contestant resume. “I’d also like the chance to continue in queening for the possibility of a scholarship to Cal Poly.

Samantha Smith — Samantha, 19, is the daughter of Shon and Jerry Smith, of Angels Camp. She is a 2017 graduate of Bret Harte High School and was a four-year member of FFA. Her interests include watching baseball, hockey and rodeo, and hiking, photography, fishing, collecting seashells, baking and taking care of her pets. She plans to attend Columbia College in the fall, then transfer to a UC to study veterinary science. On horseback, Smith has participated in trail rides, working cattle and gymkhana events. She was named 2012 Junior Horse Show High Point Champion at the Calaveras County Fair, 2013 High Point Junior 4-H Wrangler Horse Show, and was the 2016 Calaveras County Saddle Queen.

“I am competing for the title of 2018 Mother Lode Roundup Queen because, over the past few years of attending Mother Lode Roundup events, I have come to know and love the ways of the Mother Lode Roundup family,” she said in her contestant resume. “This rodeo is a very traditional and fun event that my family has attended every Mother’s Day weekend for many years now. I have also observed how welcoming the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Posse and the Queen Committee are to the girls from Calaveras County, or, as they like to say, the girls from across the ‘river.’ It would be a great honor to represent such a supportive family and outstanding rodeo.

Victoria Smith — Victoria, 18, is the daughter of Peter and Sandra Smith, of Soulsbyville. She is a senior at Summerville High School, where she is student body president, editor of the school paper, a regular on the honor roll, plays soccer, is a member of the Bear Service Club and participates in journalism and yearbook. She has served as president of the Bear Service Club and as vice president of her 4-H club. After graduation, she plans to attend Modesto Junior College and continue playing soccer. She has competed in horse shows in Calaveras, Mariposa and Tuolumne counties and around the state where she has won multiple High Point awards. She also won Senior Rabbit Showmanship and Small Livestock Round Robin at the Mother Lode Fair two years in a row, as well as the Caren Eilrich Small Outstanding Livestock award. Victoria’s other interests include tennis, cheerleading, piano, photography and reading.

“I am competing for the title of the 2018 Mother Lode Roundup Queen because I have loved watching my hometown rodeo since I was a little girl and I want the chance to promote our amazing Roundup while also increasing the awareness among the general public of the sport of rodeo itself,” she said in her contestant’s resume. “I am also looking forward to all the new experience and friends I will make throughout the duration of this queen contest.”

Rachelle Snitchler — Rachelle, 23, is the daughter of David and Ann Snitchler, of Valley Springs. She attends Sacramento City College where she is working toward an associate’s degree in political science. She then plans to attend Boise State University in Idaho to pursue a bachelor’s degree in communications. Her interests include snowboarding, hiking, running, embroidery, gold mining/panning, exploring, reading, and playing board games and card games with friends. Her horsemanship activities include taking lessons, trail rides, queen competitions and mentoring and Frogtown Pony Express. She was named 2016 Miss Rodeo Oakdale and 2018 Miss Photogenic for the Miss Rodeo California competition.

“I am competing for the 2018 Mother Lode Roundup Queen because it has been my goal to represent the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Posse since 2011,” she said in her contestant’s resume. “The Mother Lode Roundup queen has such an impact on the community, I would love to be a part of such a wonderful organization that does so much for those around them. The TCSP does a great job at combining both rodeo and community.”

Junior Queen contest

Opal Cahoon is the sole competitors for the Mother Lode Roundup Junior Queen contest.

Opal, 14, is the daughter of Abigail Cahoon, of Oakdale, and is in eighth grade at Oakdale Junior High School. She participates in choir at the school, and enjoys swimming, arts and crafts and hanging out with friends. Her horse-related activities include gymkhana, jumping, polo, horse shows and teaching young kids to ride. She has won several awards including the High Point award for county fair open show gymkhana in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and High Point gymkhana at the Mohave County Fair in Arizona. After graduating high school, she plans to attend California State University, Fresno, to study agricultural science.

“My mentor won (the Mother Lode Roundup Junior Queen crown) in 2014,” Opal said in her contestant’s resume. “She is someone that I look up to and respect. My mom ran for Oakdale Rodeo queen and always says that it was a great experience. I am excited to compete for junior queen to help promote this support.”

Roundup events

Queen contestants must sell a minimum of 200 rodeo tickets each and will be judged based on a personality interview and horsemanship competition. The 2018 Mother Lode Roundup Queen and Junior Roundup Queen will be crowned on May 6 at the Sonora Opera Hall on Washington Street in Sonora. Doors open at 6 p.m.

The Roundup Parade will begin at 10 a.m. May 12 on Washington Street in Sonora, followed by two days of rodeo beginning at 2 p.m. May 12 and 13 at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds off Stockton Road in Sonora.