GERRY - Ten-year-old Gabby Graham, daughter of Shawn and Shana Graham, stock contractors for the annual Gerry PRCA Rodeo, has been named as the first ever Lil’ Miss Rodeo New York for the 2017 rodeo season. She will join Miss Teen Rodeo New York, Caroline Oeschger, in promoting the sport of rodeo across the state.
The girls were selected by the Miss Rodeo New York organization at the Adirondack Stampede Charity Rodeo in Glens Falls. The organization began in 2012 with a mission to “select quality role models of integrity, good will, and leadership, and to promote the Western way of life, professional rodeo, and the State of New York”.
Gabby Graham, who lives on the family ranch, home of one of the oldest weekly rodeos in the nation, in Lake Lucerne, has been coming to the Gerry Rodeo since she was six years old and will be remembered by local rodeo fans for singing the National Anthem here at that early age. Rodeo has been a way of life for Gabby as she has been traveling the rodeo circuits from Florida to Las Vegas since she was nine months old with her parents who produce about 40 rodeos annually. Her father is a former bull rider and saddle bronc rider while her mother is still barrel racing in competition.
This little cowgirl is already barrel racing on her quarter horse No Bull Just Cash (JC for short) and hopes to eventually have her own specialty act as a trick rider, a dream that began when she first performed with professional trick rider Gena Cox at age four. In her spare time she participates in baseball, basketball, soccer, gymnastics, sings in the school chorus, and plays flute in the band.
Teenager Caroline Oeschger lives on a quarter horse farm in the town of Greig in northern New York and has been barrel racing since age six. She is a junior in high school and plays soccer and is a co-captain of her school’s rifle team. She is an active member of the Oneida County 4H where she shows her own horses and gives riding lessons. Eventually she hopes to become a professional barrel racer. Her immediate plans after high school include attending SUNY Morrisville to obtain a Business degree.
As to her goals for this summer, she says, “I hope to inspire other young girls to never give up on their dreams. I want to be a role model to the youth I encounter this year and to share what a blessing rodeo has been for me”.
Both girls will be in attendance at the free Rodeo Camp on April 29 and at the 73rd Gerry Rodeo, August 2 -5, along with Gabby’s younger sister Lexi, who sports the title of the first Lil’ Miss Painted Pony Rodeo.
The annual Gerry Rodeo, sponsored by the Gerry Volunteer Fire Department, is entering its 73rd year, making it the longest consecutively running rodeo east of the Mississippi. Additional information is available at the rodeo website www.gerryrodeo.org
Photo: Gabby Graham, Lil’ Miss Rodeo New York (left), and Caroline Oeschger, Miss Teen Rodeo New York, will be appearing at the free Rodeo Camp on April 29 and at the 73rd annual Gerry Rodeo, August 2 - 5.