This article was written guest blogger Katherine Merck, Miss Rodeo America 2016
“Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” – Oscar Wilde. “Personality” amounts to a quarter of the total points possible in the Miss Rodeo America Pageant. As a category, it is weighted equally with horsemanship and appearance and is the only category judged throughout every event during the pageant – from horsemanship to fashion show. Clearly, “personality” is an important part of being a rodeo queen – but what does it really mean?
The MRA Rulebook breaks the personality division down into several subcategories that all have one thing in common – they aren’t hard and fast, numerical points. They are attainable goals that every competitor can strive for and are achievable when you strive to be the best version of yourself.
The first two subcategories go hand in hand: intelligence and education. Intelligence is simply defined as good common sense, while education is described as conversational ability in rodeo, agriculture and other areas, with special emphasis on grammar and enunciation.
Next, attractiveness – “not necessarily to mean beauty in this sense, but rather should note whether the contestant radiates self-confidence without making an issue out of it. She should also show maturity, high moral standards, sincerity and integrity.” In my book, there couldn’t be a better definition of attractiveness. The personality category is a reflection of your personal inner beauty, while the appearance category is where outer beauty is considered. “Self-confidence without making an issue of it” is essential. Do you know who you are? What makes you special and unique? When you are confident in yourself, you cease comparing yourself to others and learn that putting down others doesn’t make you look better, but in fact reveals your own insecurities and weaknesses. Focus on being the best version of yourself rather than comparing yourself to others – by doing this, you will also demonstrate maturity, sincerity and integrity.
Genuine interest in other people, in the pageant, agriculture and in rodeo, and a noticeable consideration for others goes hand in hand with this definition of attractiveness. Are you willing to help your fellow competitors and titleholders? As my friend and rodeo clown JJ Harrison says, “rodeo is the only sport in which we help our friends beat ourselves.” This sense of community extends to the rodeo queen world and as my motto throughout my reign indicates, I truly believe that “kindness matters.”
The only part of the personality award that considers appearance is how the contestant’s style of attire and overall appearance reflect their personality and overall magnetism and eye appeal. I frequently tell girls that your outfit should be a reflection of your personality because when you love what your wear, you will feel your best and that will boost your confidence!
So how is personality judged in every event – including horsemanship? Self-projection is the ability to project one’s personality, whether from horseback in an arena, on television, or before an audience. This subcategory also considers sense of humor, showmanship, ambition, desire and enthusiasm. If you love to make jokes and have a great sense of humor, don’t be afraid to let that side of you show! The judges at every level are looking for a girl who will be the same girl for 365 days on the road that she was in the competition.
The final aspects of the personality category are a happy outlook on life in general and promptness in keeping the pageant schedule. Remember, as a rodeo queen, five minutes early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable!
To echo Miss Rodeo America 2010 and fellow personality award winner, Kelli Jackson – rodeo queens spend hours practicing speaking, modeling, and horsemanship and study everything from equine science to rodeo history, but they don’t spend time preparing for the personality portion of a pageant. By that, I don’t mean trying to craft yourself into the rodeo queen or Miss Rodeo America that you idolize or made a lasting impression on your life…I mean developing your own personality and telling your story!
After winning Miss Rodeo America, the “new girl” is rushed off to several press conferences before signing her contract. When I sat down with the Executive Board in my contract signing, the first thing they told me was that they were looking forward to learning what “Miss Rodeo America Katherine” would mean. They reminded me that I’m not Chenae, Paige or Lauren as Miss Rodeo America, but I had my own talents and gifts to bring to the Landstrom’s Black Hills Gold crown. Every single one of us have contributed something different and unique as Miss Rodeo America because every single one of us have brought a different and unique personality to the title.
What is your story? How can you use these guidelines from the Miss Rodeo America rulebook to enhance and strengthen your own gifts, passions, and talents and, as one of my favorite law school professors would say, your “way of being in the world?” The personality award is designed to recognize the girl that knows who she is, stays true to herself, and strives every single day to be a better version of that person. In other words, develop your brand, know your brand, and be confident in that brand. Above all, ride for the brand. Be the best version of YOU and you will set the world on fire!