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Mon, March 25

Queen Hammond born into rodeo royalty

Baylee Hammond speaks to students at Kingman Middle School Wednesday.
Photo by Hubble Ray Smith.

Baylee Hammond speaks to students at Kingman Middle School Wednesday.

KINGMAN – Rodeo runs in the bloodlines of Baylee Hammond, queen of the Andy Devine Days Rodeo who shared her enthusiasm for the sport Wednesday with 700 loud, restless kids at Kingman Middle School.

She told the students what it means for her to be rodeo queen – all the events she attends, representing the community and riding her horse around the Mohave County Fairgrounds arena with the rodeo flags.

And she invited them to come see her at 10 a.m. Saturday in the Andy Devine Days Parade in downtown Kingman, and then follow her to the fairgrounds for the 6 p.m. PRCA rodeo performance. A second rodeo performance is scheduled Sunday at 1 p.m.

“I was raised on it,” the 17-year-old senior at Kingman Academy High School said prior to speaking in the Bobcats’ gym. “My mom and my uncle rodeoed in high school. It’s just my thing. My goal is to share my lifestyle with them, like what I do, and get people into it.”

She was joined at the student assembly by rodeo princess Adrienne Sickel, who mentioned that she attended Kingman Middle School, and rodeo clown Austin Singley of Clearwater, Utah.

“Who wants to see me get hit by a bull?” Singley asked with a show of hands from almost everyone in the bleachers. “Well, you’ve got to come to the rodeo then.”

Singley, who lives in California and works as a stuntman at Universal Studios, promoted the rodeo at Black Mountain Elementary School in Golden Valley earlier Wednesday. He became a rodeo clown after performing in high school theatre.

“I like being around animals and goofing off,” he said. “I had nothing else going for me. It seemed like the perfect job for me.”

The worst injury Singley has suffered in seven years as a rodeo clown was a severe concussion, he said.

“I’m typically in a 200-pound barrel with steel padding. It’s like being in a car accident without airbags. It does not feel great, but the crowd loves it, so I do too,” he said.

The rodeo rally at Kingman Middle School was suggested by teacher Eleonore Land, who said she wanted to get everyone “pumped up” for the rodeo this weekend.

“I love the rodeo. I feel this is a small town and we have cowboy blood in the air,” Land said. “A lot of kids have no exposure to cowboys and the rodeo. They have no idea what it’s about.”

The Andy Devine Days Rodeo is organized by the Kingsmen, a group of local businessmen who want to preserve the area’s ranching and Western heritage.

The event pays tribute to Andy Devine, a Kingman resident who played Buck, the stagecoach driver, in John Ford’s 1939 movie “Stagecoach,” as well as other parts in Western movies.

Cowboys will compete in saddleback and bareback bronc riding, calf wrestling, steer wrestling, bull riding and team roping, with all events sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

It’s the last PRCA-sanctioned rodeo to qualify for the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) in Las Vegas. Ticket prices are $10 for adults, $5 for children at the gate.

The rodeo also includes women’s barrel racing and junior barrel racing, which are sanctioned by the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association.

Rodeo weekend kicks off with the Hundred Club Party from 6-11 p.m. tonight at the historic downtown Elks Lodge. Dinner and dance tickets are $125 a couple, available at the door, which includes four VIP tickets and parking for the rodeo. Briana Payne Band opens for Shari Rowe, a Phoenix singer who just got back from recording an album in Nashville, Tenn.

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