Girls of the West


Girls of the West

The Girls of the West story is about our young Rodeo Ambassador, and how she helps promote “the western way of life and the western-type American girl” at our Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo and other events. Meet the Girl of the West:

Makena NortonMakena Norton—Girl of the West

2024 Girl of the West, Makena Norton, is the 20-year-old daughter of Jeff Norton and Kristen Norton, and sibling to Maddy Norton. She has been involved in many realms of the equestrian community including the Colorado Hunter Jumper Association, Interscholastic Equestrian Association, and a member of the Pikes Peak Rangerettes. She also served as the 2022 El Paso County Fair Queen.

Makena is studying Agricultural Communications at the University of Wyoming. She hopes to have a career in which she can incorporate rodeo into her area of study. When not at school, Makena spends her downtime with her family and dogs, and riding her horses.

The mission of the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo is near and dear to Makena’s heart as her grandfather served in the United States Air Force. She is grateful to be a part of an organization that has proudly donated its proceeds to help service members and their families in the Pikes Peak region since 1946.

Makena rides her sorrel Quarter Horse gelding named Herbi.

Aneka NormandieAneka Normandie—Aide to Girl of the West

2024 Aide to Girl of the West, Aneka Normandie, is the 18-year-old daughter of Kristin Stites and Rich Normandie of Peyton, CO. Aneka was a member of El Paso County Hearts and Hooves 4-H club for eight years where she won several state titles and served as the 2023 El Paso County Fair Queen. She was also a member of the Pikes Peak Rangerettes promoting and dedicating her time to the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo for four years and was captain for the 2022 season. Aneka has many equine achievements with the APHA youth champion at the 2023 National Western Stock Show being her most recent accolade. Aneka currently attends Colorado State University where she is majoring in Communications and History. She hopes to use her major to incorporate the history of rodeo and impact of the sport into more mainstream areas of life. Aneka loves to spend time with her sorority sisters, ride her newest two year old pony, Teddi, and go on adventures with her family.

The military aspect of the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo is especially important to her as she currently has two parents serving, her mother in the U.S Navy and her father in the U.S. Air Force.

Aneka rides a sorrel Quarter Horse mare named Dolly.

GOTW images above © 2024 Waldrons Family Studio; Hats by Greeley Hat Works; Buckles by Clint Mortenson Silver and Saddles

More About

More About the Girls of the West Program

Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo Ambassadors

The title of “Girl of the West” was chosen because the girls are considered “Ambassadors” for the rodeo and not “Rodeo Queens.” The first Girl of the West, Dawn Norris, was chosen in 1922. The first competitions were decided by popular vote via write-in ballots available from the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce and the Gazette. The contestant receiving the most votes would be named “Girl of the West” for the rodeo. Her duties involved simply being at the rodeo and participating in the grand entry. The competition has evolved to include speech, interview, horsemanship, personality, and appearance. Their duties today include giving a promotional speech at service clubs and promotional events, giving interviews on both TV and radio, and making appearances at our military installations, and at parades and rodeos throughout the Front Range and the Pikes Peak region.

What It Means to Be a Girl of the West

The Girl of the West represents the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo during her reign. She promotes the Pikes Peak region and the rodeo by making numerous appearances within the region and out of town. She is always accompanied by her aide and an escort.

Who Is the Girl of the West?

The Girl of the West and her aide are young women who represent the West through their horsemanship ability. They symbolize the youth of our region who wish to further promote the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo, and in so doing, promote the western way of life and the ideal western-type American girl. They represent a long tradition of young women who have represented the rodeo as queen since 1922. It offers them the experience of meeting many people through public appearances at the numerous civic organizations, military installations, and other rodeos and parades in the state.


Corliss Palmer is a volunteer for the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo. As such, she has a unique occupation, escorting and scheduling over 150 appearances each summer for the Girls of the West. The trio mostly travels around the Front Range of Colorado promoting the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo. They visit all five military installations in the Colorado Springs area, speak at many service clubs, ride in parades and rodeo grand entries, and many other opportunities, including TV and radio interviews.

Corliss also chooses the fabrics and styles of the outfits the girls wear, which are made by a custom seamstress. She then arranges for professional portraits to be taken and writes the seven-minute speech the girls give. Arranging for all the appearances is quite time-consuming: emailing many contacts and calling many others. Then making up the schedule for everyone to have, including all the details for what, when, where, who.

She ended a 30-year career with Western Horseman magazine, as Advertising Director of the World’s Largest Horse Publication, in January 2002. Since then, she has held her present position with the Girls of the West for the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo.

For more information, contact: Corliss Palmer