An impactful interview with Dakota (Passey) Rice on her life leading up to the title, the year of her reign as the National High School Rodeo Queen, and her thoughts and advice for those interested in competing in the Rodeo Queen Competition.
The Back Story:
I grew up on a farm a mile and a half out of a small town. My Dad was a cowboy and my Mom was a farm girl. Naturally this combination instilled in me a great love for animals, the land, and rodeo. My Dad told me I would never be allowed to rodeo because he believed rodeo was no place for a lady. I had watched every rodeo I had ever attended from behind the bucking shoots with my Dad. He used to compete in the roughstock events and then went on to fight bulls for 15 years, so that is where I watched the magic take place.
My dream was actually to become a steer rider, but I took up sports instead. A few concussions and post concussion syndrome later I was no longer allowed to play sports and I was absolutely heartbroken. My Dad asked me if I would be interested in barrel racing, this was something I had always wanted to do so I jumped at the chance. We bought my first barrel horse Bandit and I was hooked. My high school rodeo career began in grade 10.
The Race for Rodeo Queen:
I remember seeing THE most beautiful girl I had ever seen at the Lethbridge Pro Rodeo, it was Miss Rodeo Canada Brittany Foster. I remember thinking to myself, I would love to be just like her. I knew about Rodeo Queens because my cousin had run for Miss Rodeo Canada as Miss Rodeo Okotoks. I had even dressed up as a rodeo Queen for Halloween quite a few times, but it wasn’t until I watched Brittany Foster that I KNEW it was something I wanted to do. I then discovered that the Alberta High School Rodeo Association had their own Queen Contest. I did all the research I could, talked my parents into letting me run, and put in hours and hours of preparation.
I then competed at the AHSRA Finals in June 2011 and ended up winning every category except one, which I tied in. I was the underdog of the bunch and my win was completely unexpected. I became Miss High School Rodeo Alberta 2011-2012. We then focused all of our preparation towards Nationals. The biggest Rodeo Queen Pageant there is. I competed against over 40 girls from all over the United States, Canada and Australia. I was told before heading down that the judges would never pick me. There was only one Canadian (Trish Kostelansky 1985) that had ever been crowned NHSRA Queen and it wasn’t likely to happen again. I was just supposed to have fun and do the best that I could.
The competition was fierce and intimidating. I did my very best. I was very proud of what I had done no matter the outcome, but I remember getting ready for crowning and looking in the mirror and thinking to myself, “I want to win this so bad.” There had been lots of “talk” between coaches, parents, and other spectators. They talked about how it was in between Texas and myself, or South Dakota or whoever else. I couldn’t even believe they were considering me as a possible winner!
When it came time for crowing I was so nervous, they had saved all the categories I won to announce at the very end, so I thought I hadn’t won any of the categories. But as they started to list what I had won; speech, appearance, personal interview, and modeling, I knew I had a good chance because I had won two of the main categories. Nothing can describe the feeling I felt when I heard them say the words, “Miss Alberta.” It was beyond a dream come true. I was so honored to hold the title of National High School Rodeo Queen 2011-2012
What were some of the highlights as reigning Rodeo Queen for the NHSRA?
Visiting Georgia, the Denver Stock Show, and spending 10 days in Vegas during the NFR. It was incredible. Being invited to the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton during the CFR. I was the only Queen that was asked to go and we spent the afternoon singing to the kids and playing with them. I was then asked to go along with one of the men who was playing guitar to meet a little 2 year old girl who was waiting on a heart transplant. We had to gown up and when we walked in her room her tiny body was completely running off machines. She didn’t make any sound, just watched us as we sang “You are my Sunshine” and held her hand. Her Mom was crying in the corner and told us that they didn’t think she was going to make it much longer but her one wish was to see a real live princess – which she had now seen. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
What were some of the struggles?
It is a busy year. I was traveling every weekend, finishing my last year of high school, plus many other personal commitments. When you are only 17 and under that kind of pressure it can be a lot to handle at moments. It is just so overwhelming, but overwhelming in the best way possible. It is an honor to hold such a title, but it is an exhausting year.
There are also those people who wish to see you fail, but luckily those people were well outnumbered by those who supported me.
What all is involved in the Rodeo Queen Competition?
The pageant is made up of 8 categories all worth a certain amount of points:
Prepared Speech (50) – a two minute speech written by the contestant about whichever topic she has been assigned
Horsemanship (50) – a western pleasure/reining pattern plus a flag and wave lap
Personal Interview (50) – a ten minute interview conducted by the panels of judges with questions of all topics
Modeling (25) – modeling accompanies the prepared speech
Impromptu Question (25) – the same question is asked to all of the contestants and they must answer
Written Test (25) – a test containing 50 questions based on the current NHSRA rulebook
Why do you think the Rodeo Queen competition is such an important part of rodeo?
The Rodeo Queen competition requires just as much preparation as any other event and is just as important. What is a Rodeo Queen? She is the face of Rodeo, she is the Public Relations Specialist. Her job is to lead by example, while educating and being the spokesperson for the sport. People are drawn to friendly faces. Little children love seeing a real live princess wearing a crown. Her job is one that cannot be replaced.
Advice/Tips for Rodeo Queen contestants
You can never over prepare. Find a Queen that you look up to and ask her for help! It is our job to help each other, there is no how-to book when it comes to Rodeo Queen Pageants, that is why we have each other. Soak up every moment during your title. These types of things don’t last long, a year flies by, but you will make memories that last a lifetime.
HUGE thanks to Dakota for sharing her story with Country Best Blog.
Dakota also has a lifestyle blog you should be sure to check out!