There will be only two Wallowa County girls on the 2011 Chief Joseph Days instead of the normal three, but members of the Joseph Chamber of Commerce are enthusiastic about the duo.
Silje Christoffersen, 15, and Brooke Greenshields, 16, both tall Enterprise High School juniors with a lot in common, will make up the new court.
The traditional CJD court tryouts were held under sunny skies at Harley Tucker Memorial Arena in Joseph Sunday afternoon, Sept. 26. The two lone contestants demonstrated their horsemanship by completing patterns, barrels and run-ins before the judges and a cheering audience.
As part of the tryout, they also gave short speeches introducing themselves and revealing their enthusiasm about the opportunity to become CJD royalty. The outgoing 2010 court of Queen Alex McCadden and Princesses Emily Howerton and Jesse Kohlhepp made their final official appearance telling stories about their year on the court and giving flowers and hugs to the new court members when their names were formally announced.
"I am really excited," Brook said after the tryout. "I'm look forward to spending the summer with Silje on the court and meeting new people."
" I'm excited, too," Silje said. "We're already good friends. I love riding and excited about the public relations part, about everything."
"The two girls will represent Wallowa County very well," said Cammie Hale, a member of the Joseph chamber board of director and also the girls' 4-H leader. "They did an excellent job, they both ride very well and they are excellent speakers."
Hale acknowledged the break with tradition in having only two girls on the court, but said the chamber decided not to hold another tryout, but to "go with the two very qualified girls who tried out Sunday."
Both of the new court members play volleyball forEnterprise High School volleyball, and are members of FFA and National Honor Society. They are both on student council, Silje as student body vice president and Brooke as a class officer. They are also belong to the Nez Perce 4-H riding club.
The daughter of Nils and Anette Christoffersen, Silje was born in Zimbabwe, Africa, and in her speech recalls riding her first horse there on her second birthday, when her love for horses bloomed and grew rapidly.
The family moved when she was 4 to Wallowa County and she said she "immediately felt the embrace of the community." She said one of the most exciting parts of living here was the chance to own her own horse.
During her speech she lovingly talked about memories of each of her horses: Pinky, who rolled with her once at an Imnaha playday; Prince, her first 4-H horse; and Duke, with whom she earned All-Around horse/rider team honors for four years at the Wallowa County Fair.
Duke became lame last spring, and Silje thanked the Steen family for providing her with the perfect CJD court mount, Buddy, a white 17-year-old roping horse.
"While riding Buddy, I have learned a lot about riding at high speeds and am really excited for a great year of rodeos, parades and court activities," Silje said.
Brooke, the daughter of Randy and Jeni Greenshields, said in her speech that her first word was "horse" and she used to ride around her yard on a stick horse waving to the imaginary crowd.
"Some might call it a childhood fantasy, but this fantasy is becoming a reality. For as long as I can remember, it's been my dream to be part of the Chief Joseph Day's Rodeo Court," she said.
Brooke said traveling, being a role model to little girls and making lifelong memories are among her reasons for wanting to be on the court, as well as being CJD rodeo ambassador. "I want to be able to represent this magnificent county that I have been proud to live in my entire life," she said.
Her mount, as well as "partner and best bud" for the tryouts was her 8-year-old sorrel Quarter horse gelding, Andy.
Brooke said that she hopes one day to become a veterinarian, like her father. She mentioned jobs at Double Arrow veterinary clinic and the Wallowa Lake go-track, as well as such activities as hiking and bow hunters, as being part of her busy life.
"There is no doubt that this commitment of being on the court would be a difficult one, but also full of memories strong enough to last a lifetime,' Brooke said.