February 01, 2008 | Myrna Anderson

A Calvin junior student recently attained royal status over a whole herd of subjects.

Two weeks ago, Lindsay Bielema, 21, a Calvin history major from Ada, Mich., studying to become a physician’s assistant, was crowned the 2008 National Polled Hereford Queen at the National Western Stock Show held in Denver. Bielema, running as the Michigan Polled Hereford Queen, was selected from a field of 10 other state queens for this, the 34th national title. 

Polled Herefords are a breed of cattle without horns, descendants of the Hereford cattle originally bred in England.

An ambassador for the breed

“Basically, what it means to be the National Polled Hereford Queen is that I am the ambassador for the Hereford breed both within the Hereford community itself and to those outside of it,” said Bielema, who is the first Polled Hereford Queen from Michigan. 

Bielema and the other contenders were judged based on interviews, interactions with Hereford breeders, behavior in the show ring and at ringside, and how they led in classes (groups of cattle shown together) and handed out awards.

Along with snagging the national crown, Bielema was also named Miss Congeniality in the contest. “I didn’t know that I could win both,” she explained. “They line you all up in a row, and they announce Miss Congeniality. And I found out that I had won Miss Congeniality and thought, ‘Sweet,’ and didn’t think I could win the national title as well. Then they announced second runner up and first runner up respectively. And then they announced national queen. So, I was very surprised when they said that I had won.”

The Polled Hereford Queen program is administered by the National Organization of Poll-ettes. “Lindsay is thoughtful, considerate and dedicated,” said program chair Betsy Beck. “She has a wonderful personality, a strong knowledge of the Hereford breed and did a wonderful job during the show.” 

In fulfillment of her new royal duties, Bielema will represent the breed at six national shows and several shows throughout the Michigan region, among other events. Currently serving as the secretary-treasurer of the Michigan Junior Hereford Association, Bielema has participated in several National Hereford Expos. 

“I’m mostly looking forward to interacting with the breeders and helping to promote Hereford cattle amongst the junior members of the association,” she said. “This is the most recognition that our Michigan junior association has received in the Hereford industry in a long time, and, hopefully, it will jumpstart our junior association.”

A team-oriented effort

Bielema and her family have been raising cattle since she was in the eighth grade. “My dad brought home two Belted Galloway calves that looked like Oreo cookies, and that year, I showed the one that my sister didn’t show,” she said. “Then we switched over to Herefords because they’re much calmer, gentler, easier to raise.”

She enjoys raising cattle for a number of reasons, Bielema said. “One of the big things that I enjoy about it is the responsibility that it teaches you. It teaches you to be accountable,” she said. “And I enjoy the time I can spend with my family because of it. We’re all very involved with it, and it’s very much a team-oriented effort.”

Though it will make her busier, Bielema is welcoming the additional responsibilities that come with being a cattle queen. And she is still laughing over the memories of her win, including this anecdote: “Upon the conclusion of the show, they gave me a box for my crown and a gun case. We carry our national sash, our banner, in a gun case. So, we carry the gun case in the airport, and everyone is like, ‘Ma’am, is that a firearm?’ and I say, ‘No, it’s a sash.’ They’re reading it through the X-Ray machine and saying ‘You’re the national what again?’”

Lindsay Bielema

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