In a major break with tradition, the 2003 Chief Joseph Days Court will consist of four instead of three young women as the result of court tryouts held at Harley Tucker Memorial Arena Sunday afternoon.
Earning their spots on the court were Celest Hillock and Erin Voss, both juniors at Enterprise High School, and Joy Kuppinger and Anna Yost, juniors at Joseph High School.
"This is one of the closest competitions we've had in a long time, and the only right thing to do is to have all four girls represent Chief Joseph Days, and they will do an awesome job. There's no doubt about it," said co-rodeo chairman John Bailey. He said the decision to choose all four girls was "the unanimous decision" of the Chief Joseph Days board of directors, which held an impromptu meeting in the wake of what everyone agreed were exceptional riding performances and speeches from each of the contestants.
"This does not set a precedent for future years," said Bailey after the announcement. "Everything was just too close, and it was the right thing to do."
"There will be no losers today. Every girl here is a worthy competitor," said one of the contestants, Erin Voss, prophetically during her speech.
Enthusiastic applause of the audience following the announcement of the decision to expand the court size to four this one year reflected the general approval of the Joseph chamber's decision.
"This was one of the closest contests we've ever had," commented past chamber president and court member Darlene Turner. "I think it was the concensus of the crowd, too. I kept hearing people say, 'They ought to pick all four. How can they decide?'"
The last time there was four members on the Chief Joseph Days Court was 30 years ago in 1973, and also in 1971 when Turner recalls there was some kind of mix up in the point tally, and a girl who should have been on the court based on points was initially left out. In all there have been about six times when there were four members on the court and twice five members since Chief Joseph Days was begun in 1946.
The riding tryout did not proceed without problems. During her first of two run-ins Yost's horse, Bob, a 20-year-old Quarter Horse gelding who was thought to have recovered from a pulled muscle earlier this summer, went lame. Fellow contestant Celeste Hillock generously loaned Yost her horse for the second run-in, and since only one of the two run-ins counted, apparently no harm was done.
Judges for the tryouts were: riding, Sandy Kolbaba; Marianne McLaughlin, Kjer Ames, Juanita Waters and Julie van Belle; speaking, Frances Buckles, Sherri Kilgore, Becky Hostetter, Carol Lee Perkins and Nancy Hook.
See separate story on the four members of the 2003 Chief Joseph Days Court.