Written by Lacie Koford
Western Wasatch Contributor
Dalli Holyoak has been surrounded by glitz, glamour, and the prestige that comes with rodeo queening for half of her life. At only 8 years old she found inspiration from her parents and grandparents to become involved in rodeo and more specifically, queening. Before she could even walk, Dalli was on horses and learning the “ropes” from her parents and relatives. At first, Dalli admitted that she was a little timid at the thought of getting involved in queening, but once she agreed to it, her interest was immediately sparked and she knew that was the path that she wanted to continue on. In the beginning, she participated in various local queen contests, then moved on to junior high rodeo queen contests, and eventually found herself where she is currently, a part of the UHSRA, holding the current queen title for the 2020-2021 year. At only 16 years of age and a junior in high school, Dalli was one of the youngest to compete for the title this past year. Although she was thrilled with her win, she is quick to not boast of her accomplishments and remains very humble and true to the passions she has in rodeo.
One of her favorite things about queening is meeting the wonderful friends along the way. She says that these are friendships that she has had for many years and will continue to have for many more to come. In fact, Dalli tells of a favorite memory meeting two of her very best friends though rodeo queening. She met two girls back in 7th grade, Emma Howell and Mckardy Kelly, and all three continued to move along the queening adventure together. They’ve participated in every contest since then together and she relays that they have become more like her sisters than competitors. As best friends often do, they all cheer for each other and are truly happy for each other’s wins. Queening has created an opportunity for Dalli and her friends to build new and lasting friendships. She’s excited to continue these friendships and contacts with more people she will inevitably meet along the way and well into her adulthood.
In addition to her queen competitions, Dalli has enjoyed honing her skills in various rodeo events. Barrel racing, poles, goat tying, and breakaway are her favorite events, with goat tying being her top favorite. She said that goat tying is her favorite because of the adrenaline rush she gets while speeding down the arena, going close to 100mph, feeling the excitement from the crowd, then quickly jumping off to secure her goat.
Although being involved in queening is full of glitz and glamour, Dalli says that aspect is not the most exciting part for her. She truly loves interacting with everyone she meets and with the various younger children she is able to influence. She loves helping them set goals and dreams to achieve as they grow older and experience more. Being involved in queening, she says, is being the female voice for rodeo, which is very influential. She loves the opportunity to inspire children who may be aspiring to achieve what she has one day, or who just need a positive role model to look up to.
Some of Dalli’s favorite accomplishments include obtaining top 5 in the nation out of 38 competitors just this past July at the national competition in Oklahoma. She says the competition was very tough, but she made great friends who she still communicates with on a daily basis, even now. She is also very proud of receiving the queen title for the 2020-2021 year. As part of that title, she gets to represent at every high school rodeo she can attend, engage in various public speaking opportunities, inspire youth at school events, and participate in many radio interviews. Another proud moment was qualifying for the junior high national competition in 2018. At this point, she had always dreamed of going to nationals, but thought there was no way she could make it. Her and her partner were running a little behind in the competition to qualify, but eventually placed in the top 4, placing 2nd in the short go. She says the excitement in the stands was so inspiring and motivating, because they had come from so far behind. These experiences have truly shaped the positive young lady that she is and will yet become. Undoubtedly, Dalli will continue to influence her peers and younger generations to set goals, work hard, and have an unwavering belief in themselves to achieve greatness.
When Dalli isn’t tied up with rodeo responsibilities, she has enjoyed participating in her local FFA chapter for the past 2 years. She also loves to participate in activities that are filled with adrenaline, including 4-wheelers, RAZR’s, and anything involving water. An aspiring baker and cook, Dalli loves to keep things simple with her baking skills. Her favorite thing to make was inspired by her grandma, and advanced by her mother, chocolate chip cookies. Sitting around a campfire with a group of friends is how Dalli is able to keep grounded. The simple things in life are truly what she aspires to make a priority and what is important to her.