Frigid temperatures and frozen roads allowed entertainment for students who wanted to sled or catch up on a television series instead of attending class. Although, the weather has affected not only the academic schedule, but also disrupted the Miss Murray State University Rodeo Pageant.
Originally, the pageant was set to take place this Saturday. However, due to rescheduling of other rodeo events and weather precautions, the pageant has been moved tentatively to May 3.
Kim Bellah, associate professor of agricultural science, hopes to hold an informational meeting for potential contestants the week after Spring Break. Applications are due mid-March.
Eligibility is based on the requirements for the Miss Rodeo USA pageant as well as the guidelines to be a collegiate representative for Murray State. Contestants must be a female full-time undergraduate or graduate student at Murray State and 18 to 24 years old.
The winner of the title Miss Murray State Rodeo Queen must have a willingness to promote rodeo and the western way of life.
Criterion for judging is divided into four parts.
These categories include personal interview, horsemanship where contestants must ride two patterns, a written exam which is based on collegiate rodeo rules and current events and an appearance section where the contestant will model a western outfit and give a two minute speech on a rodeo topic of their choice.
Miss Murray State Rodeo will receive a prize package including a crown, banner, buckle, a pair of chaps and some donated prizes from local businesses.
Perhaps the most important prize included in the package is the entrance fee to the Miss Rodeo USA pageant which is paid by the Murray State Rodeo Club.
The Miss Rodeo USA pageant is set up similarly to Murray State’s collegiate pageant. However, the national pageant is located in Oklahoma City and takes place over the span of one week.
Murray State has a particular claim to fame at this platform, being the only collegiate queen among ambassadors representing professional rodeo associations in their respective states.
Bellah said in the years Murray State contestants have been awarded titles such as Miss Congeniality, second runner-up and third runner-up.
Winners at the national level also boasts a large prize package, including a $5,000 career cash advancement, a buckle, a saddle, travel expenses and more.
Bellah said she believes having a pageant winner allows the public to get a better understanding of rodeo.
“When I was hired I visited with J.D. Vanhooser, the rodeo coach, to see if he would be interested in coordinating the pageant for him,” Bellah said. “When you have someone to serve as an ambassador, it’s a tradition.”
Bellah said there is a misunderstanding among the public about what rodeo is, why it is performed and the rules put in place protecting the animals.
Because Murray State has a strong tradition of rodeo, Bellah believes the pageant is an additional way to promote the activity.
“Having someone work the crowd and go to schools puts a liaison between the contestants and the general public,” Bellah said.
The pageant will be open to the public with portions taking place at the William Bill Cherry Agricultural Exposition Center and Wrather West Kentucky Museum.
Admission to the event is free because Bellah said she wants the community to come out and enjoy the contestants’ talents and a night of rodeo tradition.
Story by Tiffany Whitfill, Staff writer