The Not-So-Simple Life of a Rodeo Queen
You may or may not watch it every year, but we’re all familiar with the Miss America Pageant. Among all the glitz, gowns, and talents of the contestants, it’s no wonder many young girls love tuning in.
The Miss America Pageant, founded in 1921, was so popular that the rodeo world embraced the tradition and made their very own version – rodeo queens! Rodeo queens can be found all across the country, representing their rodeo or state. No pressure, huh? We sat down with our very own 2014 Miss Silver Spurs winner, Whitney Hopkins, and asked her to tell us about the Pageant in general and about her year as a rodeo queen. Here’s what we learned…
You might have only seen a beauty pageant on television, but you can catch the Miss Silver Spurs Pageant live right here in Kissimmee! Every June, young girls and women from Osceola County compete in one of three age divisions: Miss (ages 15-21), Junior Miss (12-14), or Little Miss (9-11). Similar to a beauty pageant, all the divisions will go through an appearance, interview, and speech portion during the Pageant. However, Miss contestants are also required to show their horsemanship skills. While this may sound daunting, there aren’t any crazy tricks per se; this portion requires Miss contestants to (1) learn a set AQHA (American Quarter Horse Association) reining pattern that shows their control of the horse in certain moves, and (2) perform a freestyle set to a song of their choice to showcase their personality and skill.
During the appearance portion, the girls are judged on factors such as their posture, suitability of clothing, photogenic quality, and more. One major difference between the appearance components of beauty and rodeo pageants is the requirement of Western clothing in rodeo pageants.
We’ve heard about the expenses that beauty queen contestants sometimes incur while preparing for a pageant, so we asked the pro herself, Whitney, how she budgeted for the required outfits. “When I started out, there was a dress I wanted but it was too short and expensive. So as fashion designer and merchandise graduate, I decided to just make my own dress! During this time, I enhanced my design skills while also learning that you don’t have to get the most expensive thing to look the part!” Think of it this way: making your own dress or adding your own flare to your outfit showcases your personality, which is a factor the judges take into consideration.
The Miss Silver Spurs Pageant is unique because it is one of few pageants that actually prepares the contestants for the day of the event. When a girl turns in her application, she’ll receive a schedule of meeting times to improve her poise, practice her horsemanship, and train on her interview skills.
Although all the girls may be competing for the same title, many of them speak highly of the friendships they form throughout the competition. Whitney shared with us, “I started competing when I was nine, and even though I didn’t win Little Miss, I made some awesome long-lasting friendships with the girls.”
We think it’s important to point out that all the things mentioned above are just some of things the girls prepare for to win in the pageant. This doesn’t necessarily represent all the work that comes after you get the title (and the crown).
“If you’re going to compete, you’ve got to plan ahead and be ready to work. I went to school for 20 hours, worked 40 hours at my job, and had to manage fitting in the pageant. There were, and still are, days that I’m beyond exhausted, but I just have to keep looking forward to the bigger picture. There are a lot of girls that consider winning, but don’t consider it as another full time job, so you’ll need to be ready and up for going to all types of events.”
When these girls win the titles of Miss, Junior Miss, or Little Miss, they win more than the crown and glory; they also take on the responsibility of representing Osceola County and the Silver Spurs Rodeo. They need to be educated on the history of the Silver Spurs Club, knowledgeable about rodeo events, and aware of current events in general.
If you think you (or your daughter!) have what it takes to represent the Silver Spurs and Osceola County, look for an application early each year. Applications cost $85 and are due in February, with the Pageant occurring in June. Or maybe you’re just interested in seeing what it’s all about!