Korin Rochelle Photography
Ariel Weinman, 23, a 2009 Alton High School graduate, will be crowned Miss Rodeo Illinois Saturday at Lewis and Clark Community College. The event will help her raise money to pay for travels that go with her new duties as Miss Rodeo.
Ariel Weinman grew up around her dad, Wes Weinman, driving modified stock cars locally, but for her it was really another kind of horsepower that tickled her fancy.
Weinman, 23, was more traditional and has loved horses as long as she can remember, so when she earned the distinction of recently becoming Miss Rodeo Illinois she was prepared for the job.
“I always went with my dad to the racetrack when I was little and I would help,” Weinman said. “I was 10, 12 years old changing tires on the racecar. I never got to drive because I wasn’t old enough, but I went to the races all the time.
“My horsepower though, you’ve got to feed it and it’s fuzzy and not on four wheels.”
At 6 p.m. Saturday, a coronation will be held at the Commons at Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey to introduce the 2009 Alton High grad and help raise funds for her upcoming travels that come with her new gig.
There will be a dinner at 6:30 p.m. and local country band the Glendale Riders will provide the entertainment. Tickets may be purchased in advance for $50 at all Liberty Bank locations, or $55 at the door.
For those supporters who would like to attend after the dinner, tickets will be reduced to $25. There will be various silent auction items and two live auction items at the coronation also.
To earn her Miss Rodeo Illinois title, Weinman competed in a rodeo back in August. She compared the competition to a county fair competition, but with a slight twist.
“In August I participated in the Miss Rodeo Illinois pageant and it’s something similar to a county fair queen pageant, or a typical pageant except the major difference is most of our questions revolve around rodeo and horsemanship and instead of a talent we have a horsemanship portion,” Weinman said.
Horsemanship isn’t a problem for Weinman, who started taking riding lessons at age 5 and got her first horse in the fifth grade. She and her mother have five between them now.
She spent a lot of time at the Illinois Boots and Saddle Club on Harris Lane in Alton growing up, too.
“That’s where I started showing up at Illinois Boots and Saddle Club,” Weinman said. “I was probably in fifth grade when I started showing out there and I’m still pretty active out there as a member. I started rodeo through the Illinois High School Rodeo Association and that’s really where I started that path. I really got into rodeo in high school, but I started competing in seventh and eighth grade.”
As for being crowned Miss Rodeo Illinois, it’s a prodigious honor for Weinman and one she won’t take lightly.
“The main duty is to be a good will ambassador for rodeo, agriculture and the state of Illinois,” she said. “I’ll do that by going to different rodeos throughout the country and be a representative for Illinois.”
She will also take on a personal plight inspired by a first-grader named Beverly, who is a family friend and cancer survivor. Beverly suffered through three brain surgeries to get to where she is today.
“My extra platform will be for pediatric cancer, so I will be trying to raise awareness for that as well,” Weinman said. “(Beverly) is a pretty awesome little kid and she’s my inspiration for the pediatric cancer part of it for sure.”
The money raised at the coronation on Saturday will help fund Weinman’s year as Miss Rodeo Illinois, as it will include plenty of travel.
“Illinois only has a couple of in-state rodeos,” she said. “The next closest one is going to be Iowa for me. (The coronation) will be to try to offset plane tickets and traveling expenses and that type of thing.”
This is a calling for Weinman, who recently got a bachelor’s degree from SIUE and will get her master’s after her year as Miss Rodeo Illinois.
“Some people say it’s a phase, but I’m 23 and I haven’t grown out of it yet,” she said. “I don’t think that’s going to happen. Some kids played soccer or tee ball; I rode horses.”