Elk City, Okla. (August 13, 2018) – The Elk City rodeo is so important to the Johnson family that they had to reschedule a wedding […]
FROM TACO TO RODEO QUEEN
Rodeo title cements a love of community in Franklin resident
Franklin, Tenn. (March, 2018) – Tonya Sanchez has never strayed far from the Franklin Rodeo.
The Franklin resident spent most of her growing up years in her hometown, attending the rodeo, and in 1986, even served as the Franklin Rodeo Queen.
The rodeo does not have its own queen anymore; rodeo officials estimate the local pageant was eliminated about twenty years ago.
But in the 1980s, each high school in Williamson County: Fairview, Franklin, Page and Battle Ground Academy voted on one girl to represent her school at the rodeo pageant. Sanchez, who ran for the pageant when she was sixteen, made signs, hoping to get the votes to represent Page High School.
Then, those four girls won the Franklin Rodeo Queen title by selling the most tickets. Sanchez and her girlfriend hit the pavement hard, going door to door, knocking on lots of doors.
It was a great experience, she said. She got to know and meet other people, and most were so welcoming, inviting her into their homes and talking with her. One of her memorable instances was meeting Miss Jenny Gant. A well-known Franklinite, Gant told her she wouldn’t buy tickets but would donate the money. “She said, “honey, I’m too old to get out but I’ll give you any amount of money you need, and you can put it towards those tickets.’”
Part of Sanchez’s drive to win the rodeo title was to fit in. She and her family were the one of the first Hispanic families to live in Franklin, and the kids at school called her “Taco.” “I was trying to prove that, hey, I belong here, just as much as anybody else.” She didn’t let the nickname define who she was; she used it for motivation. “I knew (the nickname), I loved it, and I embraced it.”
Sanchez loves her hometown and has lived and worked in it most of her life. In high school, her first job was at the Baskin Robbins store. After high school, she worked at Bridal Showcase in downtown Franklin, then at a tuxedo company. During her marriage, she lived in Nashville but moved back after her divorce.
She has been a member of the Franklin Noon Rotary Club, the organization that produces the rodeo, since 2004, sitting out a few years but returning full time last year. She is a Paul Harris Fellows recipient.
Sanchez hasn’t missed many rodeos, either. Her family, including her mom Theresa Sanchez and grandmother, Francis Headrick, still go.
For serving as the Franklin Rodeo queen over thirty years ago, Sanchez received a trophy and a pair of cowboy boots, which she still has. She got to ride in the parade and was recognized during the rodeo each performance.
It was a great experience, one she remembers fondly. It gave her a reason a sense of belonging. “I’ve kept my hands (in Franklin). (As rodeo queen) I wanted to be part of the community, and it made me part of the community.”
This year’s Franklin Rodeo, the 69th annual, is May 17-19 at the Williamson Co. Ag Expo Park. Performances are at 7 pm each night. Tickets are on sale online at www.FranklinRodeo.com and at the gate and are $20 for adults and $10 for kids ages 12 and under. All seats are reserved. For more information, visit the website at FranklinRodeo.com or the rodeo’s Facebook page or call 615-RODEO-11.