KING CITY — Cristina Balestreri, who grew up in the Salinas Valley, has been named the 2023 Miss King City Stampede.
Balestreri, daughter of Monterey County natives Mario and Josephine Balestreri, received the title, sash and crown during the third annual King City Stampede, a two-day professional rodeo held Feb. 24-25 at the Salinas Valley Fairgrounds in King City.
During her childhood, Balestreri and her parents and three brothers moved to the Salinas Valley, where the family started its own construction company.
She went to Salinas High School and was involved in FFA during her senior year. Being a member of FFA led her to raise and show a pig at the Salinas Valley Fair.
After graduating, Balestreri worked part time in a church ministry until she attended Hartnell College, where she studied agriculture business in hopes of finding a career in agriculture. While in college, she began working in the wine industry for a local company in Monterey County.
This inspired her to continue pursuing an education to further her career in agriculture sales.
Balestreri spent most of her childhood outdoors hunting and fishing. For the past five years, she has been riding horses at C4 Stables.
“This is where she found her love of horses and the western way of life,” according to rodeo officials.
In her free time, Balestreri works on a local cattle ranch. From gathering cattle to tagging fresh calves and brandings in the winter, she has improved her horsemanship and roping skills, as well as spiked her interest in the cattle ranching industry.
“Having the opportunity to be Miss King City Stampede will allow Cristina to continue helping grow our industry,” rodeo officials said.
King City Stampede is produced by Lone Oak Western Productions and serves as a fundraiser for Salinas Valley Fair Heritage Foundation, which supports 4-H and FFA programs and ongoing projects of the Salinas Valley Fair to maintain and improve current facilities.
The 2023 King City Stampede featured traditional rodeo events, including bull riding, saddle bronc riding, barrel racing, roping and mutton busting — all held inside the Rava Barn.
Balestreri, who will now represent the rodeo and the Heritage Foundation over the next year, said she is “looking forward to being an example to other young women who are interested in the western way of life.”
She wants to show the community that regardless of one’s background — whether they grew up around rodeos or not — anyone can be part of the western way of life if they are passionate.
“My goal is to show that rodeo is for everyone who is willing to put in the time and work,” she said.