A conversation with 2022 Miss Rodeo Colorado, Ashley Baller

With a degree from Colorado State University’s equine sciences program and working for the American Quarter Quarter Horse Association in her rearview mirror, along with a goal of obtaining a master’s degree on the road ahead of her, 25-year-old Ashley Baller is an accomplished, bilingual, first generation cowgirl from Parker, Colo., who earned the honor of wearing the iconic turquoise Miss Rodeo Colorado crown and representing the state of Colorado for the year 2022. Lincoln Rogers caught up with Ashley in June at the Elizabeth Stampede Rodeo and discussed becoming and being the rodeo royalty that represents the Centennial State. (Note: Questions and answers have been edited for length and clarity)

Newly crowned Miss Rodeo Colorado 2022, Ashley Baller, carried the Colorado flag around the Greeley Stampede arena in 2021 shortly after winning the upcoming 2022 Miss Rodeo Colorado crown at the pageant held during the 99th Greeley Stampede. (June 30, 2021).

Lincoln: You had a good position with the AQHA. What made you leave that job to become 2022’s Miss Rodeo Colorado?

Ashley Baller: Let me tell you, it was a very big decision. It was a really fun job with a lot of different opportunities, however, I had dreamed of becoming Miss Rodeo Colorado since I was about 12 years old. I remember when I graduated high school and knew I had to go to college, but I went to the Miss Rodeo Colorado sendoff party and I just had chills. I was like, I have to do this. So this opportunity to run for Miss Rodeo Colorado presented itself and the timing was perfect. Typically, you don’t win on your first try, but it happened and I had done a lot of praying and trusted God that this was the next step.

Lincoln: It looks like God opened the doors?

Ashley Baller: He opened every single thing. That is why I owe it all to faith, because I felt right and I had a peace about it. I had a career and thought, how am I going to leave my career and fund this? How am I going to pay for my life? So I made a goal of how much I wanted to fundraise throughout the year and my community has been so supportive. I knew this was the risk for me to take, because you can have a job forever, but you can only be Miss Rodeo Colorado once. I am so thankful.

Miss Rodeo Colorado 2022 — Ashley Baller of Parker, Colo., — waits behind the gate in the sunset light and readies to carry a sponsor flag around the arena before the start of Friday night's Extreme Bulls competition at the 2022 Elizabeth Stampede Rodeo in Elizabeth, Colo. (June 3, 2022). The Elizabeth rodeo is special to Baller, as she was rodeo royalty there in 2015.

Lincoln: You fundraise for your travel and living expenses during the year. Those sponsors shown on the side of your Miss Rodeo Colorado truck help you do that?

Ashley Baller: Exactly. They believe in our dreams, they believe in what we do and they believe in the western heritage. We are the lifeline to the western way of life. If we are not the ones promoting it and advocating for it and educating, then it is going to die.

Lincoln: It seems rodeo queens particularly connect with the younger generation?

Ashley Baller: Oh absolutely. That is one of our core functions is to be an inspiration to youth. Every school visit I go to, the kids are a little bit shy, but then afterwards, everyone is running up and hugging my legs and saying when is the next rodeo? How can I be a cowboy? I want to be a cowgirl when I grow up. That is what makes my job amazing.

Ashley Baller, 2022 Miss Rodeo Colorado, carried the Colorado state flag in front of a sell-out crowd before the start of Sunday afternoon's Red, White and Blue Rodeo at the 2022 Elizabeth Stampede (June 5).

Lincoln: It also sounds fulfilling.

Ashley Baller: Beyond measure. Life is not measured by the dollar figure. It is measured by the moments where we can have an impact on others. We may be the only experience of agriculture someone has, so it has to be positive.

Lincoln: How excited are you to start the busy summer rodeo season?

Ashley Baller: This is the moment I have been waiting for. It is nonstop. I am going to be home only three days until the end of June and July is going to be the same way. I am excited to be able to promote this industry that I love with the people that I love. Nothing beats a horseback evening at a rodeo.

Lincoln: The Greeley Stampede is where Miss Rodeo Colorado is chosen. How exciting is it going to be for you at this year’s 100th Greeley Stampede?

Galloping the arena of the Denver Coliseum during the championship round of rodeo at the 2022 National Western Stock Show was a thrill for new 2022 Miss Rodeo Colorado Ashley Baller.

Ashley Baller: The fact we are able to support that longevity here, that is huge. It is Colorado’s premier summer celebration and we will be celebrating 100 years June 23-July 4. On July 3, Greeley will be having a Mexican Heritage Rodeo for the first time. I am so excited to debut that with Jerry Diaz. I love that family.

Lincoln: Your first official rodeo of the year is the National Western Stock Show. How did it feel to finally be 2022 Miss Rodeo Colorado there in January?

Ashley Baller: My passion for that place runs so deep. I was a volunteer for five years as a local queen. I interned for three years. I was a National Western scholarship recipient. Every single day that I carried that flag in, I sat there thinking, “I can’t believe this is my life, right now.” We are really blessed in Colorado to have that as our debut performance. Twenty-nine rodeos in 16 days in a row. You are well-seasoned after that. (laughter)

Lincoln: Anything else about Miss Rodeo Colorado you want people to know?

Ashley Baller: I just want to carry the legacy the women before me have set. They are so classy and they are so intelligent. They are my role models. This is an opportunity I recommend any young girl interested in it to pursue. I am a first generation cowgirl and I grew up in a low-income family, but I have never let finances get in the way of my dreams. It is expensive, don’t get me wrong. I am just really passionate about having girls become interested in this and experience the opportunity and the doors that it opens for you. This community is so well supported. I want young girls out there to feel inspired to chase their goals regardless of the financial mountain that might seem to be there, because that is nothing compared to your aspirations.


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