Rodeo Royalty Prepare for 127th Cheyenne Frontier Days
Miss Frontier, Lady-in-Waiting have traveled the country promoting the ‘Daddy of ‘Em All’
- Published In: Other News & Features
- Last Updated: Jul 17, 2023
Jordan Johnson, left, and Caitlin Garcia will serve as Miss Frontier and her Lady-in-Waiting, respectively, at the 127th Cheyenne Frontier Days that begin on Friday. (Wyoming Truth photo by Kaycee Clark-Mellott)
By Kaycee Clark-Mellott
Special to the Wyoming Truth
CHEYENNE, Wyo.— Jordan Johnson was only five weeks old when she attended her first Cheyenne Frontier Days (CFD) Coronation Ball, cradled in the arms of her mother, Rachelle Zimmerman, who reigned as Miss Frontier 1993. On Friday, Johnson will continue the legacy when she gallops into the arena as Miss Frontier 2023 to kick off the 127th edition of the world’s largest outdoor rodeo.
“[Frontier Days has] always been something that I was ingrained with and that I loved,” Johnson, 22, told the Wyoming Truth. “It is special to have it come full circle.”
Johnson will be joined by Caitlin Garcia as her Lady-in-Waiting. As rodeo royalty, the pair are ambassadors for CFD. During their two-year volunteer commitment, they travel the country in winter and spring, serving as the face of CFD and helping other rodeos and their queens.
“We have shagged cattle [pushing them to the other side of the arena], run sponsor flags, carried the American flag, helped with mutton busting, and just about anything else,” Johnson said.
In addition, Johnson and Garcia participate in the queens’ runs at other rodeos—riding into the arena on horseback while waving to the crowd.
“[Our travel] is less about performing in the rodeo and more about the communication, ambassadorship and education [of CFD and western heritage],” said Johnson, who has fond childhood memories of playing with other kids in the Indian Village and helping dismantle the tipis after the final Sunday rodeo.
“Some attack the sport of rodeo… without truly understanding what it really means and who we are,” she added. “I think that we are in a position where we’re inviting, not intimidating, and we are young enough that they’re willing to have a conversation with us rather than just argue.”
Beneath the hat, boots and spurs
Neither Johnson nor Garcia is new to the rodeo limelight. As students at Cheyenne Central High School, both were Dandies for CFD, serving as local ambassadors and performing on a drill team while visiting regional rodeos.
“Even as Dandies, being down there, you can’t describe riding in that arena,” Garcia said. “To be in this position that we’ve worked forever for is just going to be awesome.”
“There’s nothing like making that first run on the very first Saturday of Frontier Days in front of a dang near sold-out crowd,” Johnson said. “It’s a good payoff moment, with all the time, effort and energy you’ve put into promoting this organization that you love…”
When CFD kicks off on Saturday, Johnson and Garcia will make their grand entry queen run around 12:45 p.m., riding their own horses into the arena and waving to the crowd. They will be on site daily to attend every pancake breakfast, parade, rodeo, night show, luncheon and banquet. Visitors also will see the duo stroll in the Grand Parade in downtown Cheyenne and make appearances throughout the rodeo at Frontier Park.
Both Johnson and Garcia have deep connections to the town and rodeo. Johnson was born in the state capital to a family that has decades-long involvement with CFD. Her mother and stepfather currently serve on the Indian Committee; her father worked on the Military Committee and now is member of the Public Relations Committee.
Garcia, 24, moved from Idaho to Cheyenne as a young child. She is no stranger to the CFD arena, having competed in junior barrel racing competitions there at age 8. Her father has volunteered for the rodeo’s sports medicine group.
Last August, the CFD General Committee selected Garcia as the Lady-in-Waiting based on her performance in a horsemanship demonstration, riding a random horse in a reining pattern and several interviews. She will become Miss Frontier 2024 next month.
For Johnson and Garcia, being stars of the “Daddy of ‘Em All” is a dream come true.
“You always hear people talking about how Cheyenne’s a great place to grow up, but I think Cheyenne Frontier Days is an even better place to grow up,” said Johnson. “To spend days in the arena and offseason then get to see how it transforms in these couple of months to something that people travel from all over the world for, I think it’s really unique and special.”
After completing her reign on July 30, Johnson will attend Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Garcia, who is pursuing a master’s degree in animal science at UW, hopes to teach an equine program.
Both are grateful to their families, friends, employers and Frontier Days leadership for the guidance and support they have received over the past year.
Johnson, the second-generation Miss Frontier, isn’t ruling out continuing the family legacy: “As far as I know, there has yet to be a grandmother, mother and daughter group to be Miss Frontier. So only time will tell.”