Rodeo Royalty: Queen Piper Schirm performs her duties at the Benton-Franklin Fair and Rodeo

KENNEWICK, Wash. — Rodeo Queen Piper Schirm is 22 years old, studying project management at Columbia Basin College with an emphasis in agriculture.

“I remember when I did 4-H, and I had a bad show, and a Rodeo Queen came over and talked to me and it just made everything better,” Queen Piper Schirm said.

Most horse riders start when they’re barely old enough to walk. She said she didn’t get in the saddle until she was 15 years old. “Most people I know, their families ride, so they start as soon as they can, or before that like they’re on the horse with their parents. So I was a little late.”

She started off as a competitive figure skater, and when she began horseback riding, she said it just felt right. Piper said, “It gave me that same flying feeling that I got when I was skating.”

She then did WAHSET, the high school equestrian team for Washington State, and then drill.

After getting inspiration from the 2019 Benton-Franklin Fair and Horse Heaven Round Up Rodeo Queen, she decided to try out herself. She went through the process that year. She said, “Didn’t quite get it and decided, you know what, I think I need to work on my horsemanship skills. Just become a little bit better of a rider.”

Queen Piper’s mare, B Sprite

And she did what she set out to do—with the help of her ‘best friend,’ B Sprite. “I got B in February, right before COVID, and she has been my number one best friend,” said Piper. She says B loves to run in the rodeo when it comes time for her hot laps. But she also knows when to be calm and relaxed and trot.

“She helped build my confidence so much, and my ability. And she has just been honestly my best friend through this whole experience,” Piper said, “We’re together 100% of the time. We go everywhere together. And if I had a bad ride, she’s calm, relaxed, and is gonna be like, ‘Oh, it’s fine. We’re gonna go in and kill the next one.’ So she’s, she’s awesome. I really couldn’t have asked for a better horse.”

Winning the Benton-Franklin Fair and Rodeo Queen Title

When she won in 2021, she said it was exhilarating. “As soon as they said that I won interview, I started crying because that was not something I felt confident in,” Queen Piper Schirm recalled. “I came back down, and they said horsemanship, and I was like, ‘No way, I couldn’t have won both of these,’ and then they said that I won the speech.”

“I was just so overwhelmed with joy,” she said. “The second you get crowned, all these girls swarm up stage to come talk to you and make you feel like you’re part of their family.”

She said one of her favorite parts of the job is inspiring the youth she interacts with at the fair. “I absolutely adore being around kids,” she said. “They are the future of the world. I love getting to light up their day and to be part of the fun that they have at fair.”

Queen Piper Shirm said she’ll be competing in Miss Rodeo Washington on October 9th, and then passing her crown onto the next Benton-Franklin Fair and Horse Heaven Round Up Rodeo Queen on October 29th.

She said, “If anyone is interested in being a rodeo queen, this is the program for you. It has been the most exciting, fun year but I can say I’ve grown so much as a young woman.”

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