By Reggie Ellis

Two years ago Kendra Burkheimer's parents, Steven and Doris Parry, moved to Sacramento.

Faced with moving hundreds of miles away from her friends and into a big city, Kendra chose to stay in Tulare County where she grew up in Exeter learning horsemanship and trick riding.

"I guess I just didn't want to live in a big city," she said. "I don't think I could have given up riding."

A 2002 graduate of Central Valley Christian, Kendra, 20, has been riding and roping as a student and trainer with the Riata Ranch Cowboy Girls ever since her parents bought her lessons when she was 9 years old. Her horsemanship and enthusiasm for rural life helped her to become Rodeo Queen for the 52nd Woodlake Lions Rodeo.

"Rodeo is more than just an event, it is a history lesson," Kendra said. "It brings the community back to the way it was."

As queen, Kendra will preside over Woodlake Western Week, which began Saturday and continues through the rodeo this weekend, May 7-8. The rodeo is Woodlake's largest event of the year, drawing thousands of people to the rodeo grounds to see professionals compete in steer wrestling, brahma bull riding, calf roping, bareback bronc riding, saddle bronc riding and barrel racing. As part of her duties, Kendra rode in the Springville Rodeo promoting Woodlake, will ride in the Woodlake Rodeo parade on May 7 and as many of the other activities as her school schedule allows.

"Rodeo is great because it is the only homegrown, true American sport," she said. "It is not just the animals and riders. It is family oriented and offers a wholesome atmosphere."

Queen contestants were judged on three criteria: horsemanship, poise and personality and ticket drawing sales. To be eligible, applicants must be between 16-24 years old and unmarried. Young women from throughout the area are encouraged to apply. The queen contest was coordinated by Pam Whiteside an active Lady Lion since 1984. Recent queens were Audra Ainley (2004), Kara Morris (2003), Alisha Nelson (2002), Corrine Ainley (2001) and April Tayler (2000). Kendra's 2005 Rodeo Court will include:

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