HOOPER — Residents here already believe their city is a priceless gem.
But now, they’ve got a representation to prove their beliefs.
It’s a new tiara to be worn by their Miss Rodeo Hooper, also referred to as Miss Hooper Tomato Days. The crown will be passed down to the new queen each year.
Hooper’s new crown jewels are insured for enough money to purchase a new car.
But those involved with the design and creation of the relic say it’s priceless.
“We decided if they are going to have a Miss Hooper Tomato Days, they ought to have a crown that represents Hooper,” Mitzi Fluckiger said.
“We wanted to make something (so the rodeo queen) can be proud of the community and proud to represent it.”
Mitzi Fluckiger is co-owner of Aaron’s Jewelry and Manufacturing in Roy.
The business and its family of craftsmen donated the materials and more than 200 hours of work for the tiara’s creation. The tiara is a replica in jewels of the city’s logo created by Carol Ann Johnson, a former Miss Hooper.
“We wanted to do something to recognize the logo as the standard for the city,” Mitzi Fluckiger said.
Residents of Hooper for more than 30 years, Mitzi Fluckiger said she and her husband, Jay Fluckiger, love their city and wanted to give a gift to the city that was something special.
“We wanted it to represent what we are and what we can do,” she said.
Mitzi Fluckiger said her husband is one of only two master jewelers in the state and the family wanted to showcase his abilities as well as those of the other members of the family team.
“You can get tiaras all day long out of catalogues,” she said. “To get a custom tiara, there really aren’t any.”
Mitzi Fluckiger said the process started when her daughter, Sally Wintle, drew the design from the city’s logo, which features a horse shoe and a tomato.
The design also features blue, representing water and as a reminder of Muskrat Springs, the city’s first name, gold representing the sunsets for which the area is known and red, signifying tomatoes.
Silver swirls loop around to represent the coming together of a city.
The crafters opted to mold the intricate hat jewel around a fire extinguisher because the device was about the same size and shape as the average woman’s cowboy hat.
“This was different than molding a ring,” Mitzi Flukiger said.
Those on the committee to help with the Hooper Tomato Days queen competition said they couldn’t be more proud of the new tiara.
“The tiara we’ve had all these years, it was pretty busted up when I had it in 1993,” said Evaline McCloy, who along with her mother, Carol Johnson, is co-chairwoman of the rodeo queen committee.
McCloy said her goals for the pageant were to get a saddle donated to the queen and to get a new tiara.
Two years ago, American Monument became the saddle sponsor so she moved on to the tiara.
“I just kept going back to Miss Rodeo Utah’s crown,” she said. “Everything on it comes back to Utah.”
McCloy said having a hand-made tiara unique to Hooper seemed out of reach.
But she said she and her mother were brave and asked the Fluckigers and their family team anyway.
“They listened to what we wanted and why we wanted it,” she said.
And McCloy said not having another tiara like it actually ended up helping the creative process.
“Because they didn’t know what they were doing, they were open to new ideas,” McCloy said of the Aaron’s Jewelry team.
McCloy said she went from timidly asking for the tiara sponsorship to being blown away by what the city was getting.
“The more we talked, the grander the tiara got,” she said.
And McCloy said she was astonished at the financial commitment the jewelers were making too.
She quoted Jay Fluckiger as telling her: “This will be the most expensive tiara in the state but we will be paying for it.”
And McCloy believes others are just as awe-struck with the new crown jewels of Hooper.
She said when the Fluckigers unveiled the tiara at the pageant for Miss Rodeo Hooper this fall, the jaws of all those present dropped.
“I’ve never heard a gasp like that from a crowd of people,” she said. “We’ve never had anything like that.”
And she believes the tiara will benefit Hooper and its annual rodeo queen contest.
“We’re still considered a small town,” she said. “A lot of the girls who come to the contest pronounce Hooper wrong.”
But she doesn’t believe they will make that mistake any longer now that winning the title there will be so much more prestigious.