Most little girls, at some point in their lives, want to be a princess and wear beautiful clothes and tiaras. For Cassidy Black, Miss Rodeo Utah 2016, that dream came true.
The Miss Rodeo Utah scholarship pageant began 60 years ago and is an affiliate of the Miss Rodeo America scholarship pageant. According to past participants, the Miss Rodeo Utah and America pageants are very similar to other beauty pageants with interview and runway portions. However, instead of the traditional talent portion of the competition, participants show off their horsemanship skills.
Participants in the Miss Rodeo Utah pageant compete in five categories: horsemanship, personality, appearance, public speaking and photogenics. Horsemanship, personality and appearance count for 30 percent each, with public speaking counting for 7 percent and photogenics for 3 percent.
“It takes a lot of time, preparation and is definitely nerve-wracking,” said Mary Shaw Drake, Miss Rodeo Utah 1997 and Miss Rodeo America 1998. “You have hours upon hours of study and improving your talent and your knowledge range goes from current events to equine science.”
Cassidy Black is a student at Weber State University studying professional sales. A native of Coalville, Utah, Black will not officially take over as Miss Rodeo Utah until after Miss Rodeo Utah 2015, Bailey Jo Woolsey, has competed in Miss Rodeo America, in December. In total, that makes Miss Rodeo Utah a 17-month commitment.
“Several years ago when Chenae Shiner won Miss Rodeo America, Utah was without a queen and we initiated a lady-in-waiting program,” said Gena Blonquist Black, Hospitality Director for the Ogden Pioneer Days Rodeo. “Whoever is crowned in July won’t actually wear the crown until January, then they compete in December at Miss Rodeo America in Las Vegas.”
Along with being a landmark 60th year of the Miss Rodeo Utah, Cassidy Black is also a second-generation Miss Rodeo Utah. Her mother, Gena Blonquist Black, won the queening competition back in 1981 and went on to be an attendant to Miss Rodeo America.
Shaw, Black and Woolsey all said that being involved in a rodeo queen pageant —especially to the extent it takes to win—takes quite a bit of time and commitment. According to Woolsey, it is very intense but it can also be very rewarding.
“Queening is something that is very hard and very expensive but if you love it, then go for it,” Woolsey said. “I absolutely love being a rodeo queen. When you start out, be in as many competitions as you can because that’s how you gain experience and confidence.”