FEATURE - "The Reluctant Queen"

BOTHWELL – By Ellen Cook – August 27, 2020


If you ask Lexi Johnson where she feels the most comfortable, she will likely tell you on the back of a horse. If you ask her what makes her uncomfortable, the answer would probably be competing in queen contests.

But in July, this 18-year-old Bothwell cowgirl, with strong encouragement from her mother, fine-tuned her talent, overcame her trepidation and rode out of the 2020 Golden Spike Rodeo Queen contest wearing the crown. She will represent Box Elder County during Fair Week at the nightly rodeos, as well as throughout the next year.

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Lexi Johnson - Photo by Ashley Wright Photography

Lexi isn’t the only one beaming over this accomplishment. Her parents, Dan and Brenda Johnson, are equally proud of their youngest. In fact, it was de ja vu for Brenda, who wore the same crown exactly 33 years ago.

The Covid-19 pandemic caused several changes in this year’s competition, according to Lexi, changes that she felt worked to her advantage. Gone was the need to model, one part of “queening” that was never to her liking.

“This year the contest was shortened up a bunch. There were fewer questions and most of the competition was based on horsemanship,” she said. “That made my odds really good.”

Three other young ladies from the county also vied for the title, but Lexi, who admits to amassing a few ribbons and titles in the past (Princess three times and Mini Miss twice), said her knowledge and riding abilities helped propel her to the top.

“I just had to concentrate on showing my good riding skills. You have to be able to know ahead of time where you are going and stay in the center of your horse while going around,” she said.

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Brenda and Lexi Johnson - Photo by Ashley Wright Photography

Sharing the final platform with her were first attendant, Brandi Olsen, daughter of Lance and Nichelle Olsen of Beaver Dam, and second attendant, Brooklyn Wilkinson, daughter of Larry and Hindi Wilkinson of Deweyville.

Lexi said her home background played a big part in the title, as well.

“I’ve ridden horses my whole life. My mom queened a lot and did barrels and poles. My dad rode broncs. My older brother and sister both competed,” she said.

Lexi is following in their footsteps, with a few additions. She loves barrels, like her mother, but is big into break-away roping, too. In fact, her skill with a rope won her the Division Nine break-away championship while competing for the Malad Rodeo Club during her senior year.

It has also earned her a scholarship to Miles City Community College in Montana, where she will be moving shortly to further her education. She hopes to study, not surprisingly, something to do with either horse massage or horse dentistry.

Even though the high school rodeo season was almost non-existent this year because of the virus, Lexi said she is looking forward to “getting back in the saddle” and is excited to be representing Box Elder County at the Golden Spike Rodeo.

“I am looking forward to the fair and seeing all the people come out,” she said. “It has been a long time, it seems, and everyone filling the stands will be like things being back to some kind of normal. It will be good to have everyone there.”

Photos by Ashley Wright Photography

Lexi Johnson - Photo by Ashley Wright Photography
Lexi Johnson - Photo by Ashley Wright Photography