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Posse Arena creates high school rodeo queen

By CHUCK BALLARO - | Feb 17, 2021

Lindsay Widener, a sophomore at Riverdale High School, named Florida High School Rodeo Association Rodeo Queen for the 2020-21 school year. PHOTO PROVIDED

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Lindsay Widener never really thought she would ever by considered rodeo royalty. She always thought of herself as a tomboy.

However, the Buckingham resident, who spent many of her formative years riding at the Lee County Posse Arena in North Fort Myers, decided to take the plunge, and, thanks to what she learned at the arena, is the Florida High School Rodeo Association Rodeo Queen for the 2020-21 school year.

Lindsay, a sophomore at Riverdale High School, said winning was the last thing she expected, but when she did…

“It was a ‘this is going to change a lot of stuff’ reaction. I thought this would bring me new experiences, which it definitely has,” Lindsey said. “I get to go out and make a lot more friends.”

Lindsay is the youngest child of Eric and Cyndi Widener, who run a small cattle farm. Lindsay’s older sister grew up competing in rodeos and riding at the arena, like her mother. Lindsay said she grew up around horses and can’t remember not going to the Posse for rodeos.

“The Posse Arena is a great place to meet people who used to ride there or who just got started, and it’s a great time and a lot of fun,” Lindsay said.

Lindsay also competed, but had never been in any kind of pageant or had any interest in doing them, Cyndi said.

“She’s always been a bit of a tomboy and not much into hair and makeup. Last year she decided it would be fun, she’d learn a lot and make a lot of friends,” Cyndi said. “She gave it a go and here we are.”

“I haven’t always been the girliest of girls or the most social, either. Last year’s queen told me about it and it was a little out of my comfort zone,” Lindsay said. “I didn’t think I would win.”

As it turned out, Lindsay had all the right stuff.

Rodeo queen honors require a well-rounded set of qualifications– good grades, great knowledge of the sport of rodeo and the ability to ride a horse really well.

“As part of the competition, you have to take written exam on the rule book. You have to know about all the events,” Lindsay said. “As for riding, you have to do a pattern, and they don’t judge the horse but how good a rider you are and what you could get the horse to do and do it smoothly.”

Lindsay serves as the ambassador for high school rodeo. She sells tickets, signs autographs for young fans, talks to people to explain the rules and puts together social events, such as the rodeo prom which will be next month in Wauchula.

She also has to take care of all the sponsor, state and American flags and compete at the national queen competition.

And, yes, Lindsay tries to compete as much as she can and does well in reining and light rifle. She only competes in barrel racing and breakaway roping in the regular rodeo events.

As with everything else, COVID has affected everything nationwide. The rodeos until now have been limited to the Okeechobee Agri Center and the Southeastern Livestock Pavilion in Ocala.

The Posse Arena went after the March rodeo, but that went to the Hardee County Cattleman’s Arena in Wauchula, as the FHSRA president makes the schedule.

One of the greatest things she leaned about being a rodeo royalty: The cardinal sin is to have your hat fall to the ground.

“The one thing I have heard about hats the most is that if my hat hits the ground, my head had better be in it. And it has to be a felt hat and not a straw one,” Lindsay said.

As for her future, Lindsay said she would like to go for a scholarship to compete in college rodeo and, if good enough, do it professionally.

The backup plan is for her to major in and teach history.

“I really love mythology, but there are not a lot of mythology professors needed. So, I may just do history in general,” Lindsay said. “A lot of kids who compete in high school rodeo go on to compete in college on scholarship.”