photo by Jerry Baldock
photo by Jerry Baldock
The 2020 Sisters Rodeo Queen, Mary Olney of Warm Springs, was chosen at Sisters Rodeo grounds from a group of highly qualified cowgirl competitors on September 22.

Mary is the niece of Warm Springs Chief Delvis Olney, Sr. She was raised in a rodeo family. Her father was a rough-stock rider and her three brothers are all bronc and bull riders. Even her grandmother, Catherine Watah, was a bareback rider.

“I was raised by some of the toughest cowgirls in the Northwest,” Olney explained, “They instilled in me a love for animals, rodeo and the Western way of life.”

Three weeks ago, Sonia Heath, Mary’s mother, dreamed that Mary was chosen as Sisters Rodeo queen. “I couldn’t have had a better daughter than the one I have,” Sonia said. “She herself is a dream for any mother of daughters.”

The new queen, a graduate of Madras High School, has served on student council and was a member of National Honor Society and FFA. She played soccer and softball, and participated in cheer.

The petite 18-year-old rides Dixie, her five-year-old bay mare, who performed nearly flawlessly in the riding drill.

In her speech, Olney said, “Now, I’m not sure if there’s something in the lemonade, or it’s just the surrounding atmosphere, but there is a closeness that you can feel right when you step through the front gate. When you attend Sisters Rodeo, you feel you’re part of a family.”

Her youngest brother, Josh, said that his sister is “always able to smile. Even when she doesn’t feel like it, she smiles. She is so friendly and wants to make other people happy.”

Grandmother Catherine repeated such perception of her granddaughter.

“Mary is so friendly, happy, and fun-loving,” she said. “Other people feel good just being around her.”

Friends in attendance supported these statements. Ronnie, a family friend, said, “She is dedicated, strong-willed and has a wonderful personality.” Delia, an older friend, said, “She’s an awesome cowgirl, sweet, and anything she wants to do she does well.”

Olney plans to attend Tulsa Welding School to become a certified welder, but her long-term goal is to be a pediatrician.

“I want to save some money for school so I’m not starting my chosen career in huge debt,” she explained.

Mary is looking forward to being the ambassador for Sisters Rodeo, recognizing the importance of being a good representative of any sport or title.

“I am really excited to represent Sisters Rodeo,” the new queen expressed breathlessly after her coronation. “This is a life-long dream come true.”

Sisters Rodeo will begin June 10 with Xtreme Bulls followed by four rodeo performances June 12-14. Ticket sales will begin in December. For tickets and information go to www.sistersrodeo.com or call the ticket hotline at 541-549-0121 or 1-800-827-7522. The ticket office is at 220 W. Cascade Ave. in Sisters.