Ever since she was five years old, Cochrane Lions Rodeo Queen Kyla Lightfoot has dreamt of being in the Calgary Stampede Parade.

Having it come true nearly 15 years later brought tears to her eyes as she and her faithful horse Sammy paraded for three hours through downtown Calgary on July 7, waving to thousands of people from around the globe that lined the route to kick off the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.

"I was five years old when I first watched the parade, and I looked up at my mom and I said, 'You know what, mom? One day I want to ride in that parade.' And so here I am, almost 15 years later, riding my very first horse in the Calgary Stampede parade," says Rodeo Queen Kyla.

"It brought tears to my eyes near the end of it."

She had the choice of renting an experienced Stampede parade horse but decided it would be much more memorable to ride Sammy, who has been her constant companion throughout her travels as Lions Rodeo Queen. As he was all year, Sammy did just fine with the crowds.

Kyla appeared at the Stampede for four days.

"Our days were pretty packed with the events that we had on our schedule, but when we weren't busy doing that, we got to mix and mingle with the crowds at the Calgary Stampede. We had a chance to talk to people and share our knowledge of rodeo and our knowledge of our town. Little children would run up to you and ask for your autograph. All of that made for a pretty amazing experience."

Kyla LightfootKyla spent four jam-packed days at the Stampede and was thrilled with custom designs provided by sponsor Janine's Custom Creation Outfits.

Another highlight was being introduced and crossing the stage at the rodeo, another lifelong dream.

"We waved to everyone and once again there were thousands of people in the stands," she says. "I'm not going to lie, I was nervous, but it helped me walk proudly knowing that I was able to represent such an amazing group of Lions."

She says there were about 16 rodeo queens in the parade from Canada, the States, and even Australia. She's come to know many of them while participating in about 10 rodeos so far this season plus other special events,

They all sat down for dinner the night before the parade.

"I saw a lot of familiar faces there and some new faces as well, and that was helpful. It was a stressful time being in front of that many people, but definitely having my 'sash sisters', as we call them, there by my side made it a lot easier."

She heads to the Medicine Hat rodeo next, then Strathmore and a few others before her final appearance at the Cochrane Lions Labour Day Weekend Rodeo.

She says the Cochrane rodeo is her favourite but will be bittersweet this year.

"I've had an amazing year and I'll be really sad to see it go, but I plan on doing something else afterward to stay in the community when my reign is over."

During Cochrane's nonstop series of pancake breakfasts to celebrate the Stampede, she was thrilled to assist the Lions during the 91.5 Cochrane Now breakfast. 

"It's a memory I'll hold forever. I had never done a pancake breakfast with the Lions before this."

The search is now underway to select the new Cochrane Lions Rodeo Queen, who will be crowned on the Labour Day Weekend.

"Come the start of August, our competition will start, so I'll be really busy helping the girls out as well as doing my other events."

You can learn more about Lions Royalty here.