by Peter Carruthers
EVEN before Emma Deicke won the Miss Rodeo Australia crown last year, Whitsunday Mayor Andrew Willcox promised a huge billboard welcoming visitors to Proserpine.
Last week, the Whitsunday Regional Council together with Paradise Outdoor Advertising in Townsville, made good on that promise.
Now heading into Proserpine from the north at the corner of the Bruce Hwy and Collingvale Rd is a huge billboard which reads "Proserpine. Home of Emma Deicke. Miss Rodeo Australia 2017”.
Emma said it was a strange feeling to see a such a large image of herself right in her front yard too.
"It is still surreal to me. I have just been out running around mustering. My hair up in a bun just a normal country girl,” she said.
"Then you come out here and see your face on a billboard, it's like 'holy'.”
Emma grew up on Collingvale Station just north of Proserpine and shot to local fame in February when she brought the Miss Rodeo crown home for the Bowen River Rodeo Association.
"I am so thankful to see that the council has recognised something that is so close to my heart and they think it's a great achievement as well," she said.
"It's really good to see them behind me and backing me."
Mayor Andrew Willcox said it was great for the region to have one of our own as Miss Rodeo Australia.
"I am very proud and it is brilliant to see her up there, everyone associates the Whitsundays with our 74 beautiful islands and the Great Barrier Reef but there is so much more,” he said.
"We have a strong sugar industry and a big horticulture industry and world class rodeos.
"I wanted to her up there to promote the Whitsundays all over the county.”
CEO of Paradise Outdoor Advertising, Mitch James, said the business started in the Whitsundays and after such a huge national achievement by Emma, the donation of the billboard was a fitting way to give back to the Whitsunday community.
"We are passionate about the Whitsunday region and basically it's just welcoming everyone into the region and is all about community pride,” he said.
Mr James said his company had been doing business with the Deicke family as land holders for 30 years and on learning of Emma's achievement wanted to celebrate with the region.
"It's a huge award Australia wide, and the community needed a positive message after the cyclone (Debbie)," he said.
"It's a great award that she won and it's big thing in the Proserpine region and we wanted to get back and show our support and boost community spirit."