Rodeo queens are not just pretty faces, they are strong ladies whose greatest attributes are their perseverance and determination. Yes, rodeo queens have to maintain a glamorous appearance and wear crowns, but where they truly shine is when it comes to giving back to the community, riding their horses, and participating in rodeo life.
I interviewed Bailey Robbins, 2014 Lost Dutchman Days Rodeo Senior Teen Queen & 2015 Lost Dutchman Days Rodeo Queen, and Nikki McNatt, Roots ‘n Boots Pro Rodeo Queen 2015 & 2016, to discuss some misconceptions about rodeo queens and why accepting a rodeo queen title is such a significant, important, and meaningful undertaking.
Q: What is a common misconception about rodeo queens?
Bailey: A common misconception about rodeo queens, is that they are unable to ride. This is untrue; to even be considered a rodeo queen you must demonstrate required riding skills. Imagine entering an arena and riding 15-30 mph all while holding a flag in one hand, keeping your horse in check and remembering to smile. These are only some of a rodeo queen’s obligations, along with pushing cattle down the arena.
Nikki: One of the biggest misconceptions I have heard about rodeo queens is that we just “ride around and look pretty” which isn’t true. Not only do we carry sponsor flags and push cattle during the rodeos, we are also ambassadors and role models for the towns we represent and the sport of rodeo itself. As a queen I went to town council meetings, rodeo board meetings, and every town event that Queen Creek hosted.
Q: What is the best aspect of being a rodeo queen?
Bailey: To be honest, the best part about being a rodeo queen is everything! From the rodeos, hours spent in the saddle, to the friends made along the way, all of my days were special. I loved getting my horse all dolled up and I loved when little kids would share their dreams of being a cowboy/cowgirl with me.
Nikki: One of my favorite parts about being a rodeo queen was educating future generations about the history of our Agricultural industry and how the sport of rodeo came to be. I was blessed to work with a program called Ag In the Classroom where I got to travel to elementary schools and junior high-schools and teach about the importance of our agricultural way of life.
Q: What was your favorite experience as a rodeo queen?
Bailey: When asked about my favorite experience as a rodeo queen, it’s hard to pinpoint a direct event. Over my two years of rodeo queening, I have had the opportunity of a lifetime, whether it be getting a behind the scenes tour of the rodeos, visiting a children’s hospital where I was able to meet strong and amazing children, or meeting my idol Sherri Cervi twice! All of these experiences and more are just a piece of the puzzle that made those 4 AM to 10 PM weekends worth it; I wouldn’t trade those memories for the world.
Nikki: It is almost impossible to say a favorite memory. Traveling all over Arizona to represent the sport and town I loved was the most incredible experience. I made a ton of life long friends along the way. I will say that one of the best events I ever participated in was the Special Kids Rodeo at my hometown rodeo. We give children with any disability a chance to experience the western way of life. Seeing the smiles on their faces when they learn to throw a rope or touch a horse for the first time is priceless.
Q: What tips do you have for girls interested in running for a rodeo queen title?
Bailey: If there are any young ladies interested in running for a rodeo queen position I encourage them to do so. Some pointers to help prepare for the pageant are: memorizing parts of the horse and saddle, the history of rodeo, and some of the sanctions names and meanings. As they say “practice makes perfect” so continuing to ride and learn new techniques on your horse is a must. It’s also very important to make sure your horse is comfortable with flags, cattle and loud noises which will appear at nearly every rodeo.
Nikki: Going into a queening title I would let girls know that it is a serious commitment with amazing rewards. Make sure to do your homework about rodeo and the town you represent because you will be asked questions everywhere you go. Social media is something that you have to be careful and professional about, it can make or break you. Finally, remember that you are a role model for children so always act and speak as if you are. The world of rodeo queening is hectic, but worth it. You will meet some amazing friends and get to know some truly great people in the rodeo industry.
Images provided by Nikki McNatt, Sandy McNatt, and Eileen Raffaelli.