The rodeo queen pageant is slowly coming back.
This year’s competition marks the largest contest in years with three contestants. Six cowgirls submitted applications, but three were cut due to various reasons, according to Nevada State High School Rodeo Queen Assistant Loni Faught. The reminder, though, are vying for the crown currently held by Lowry High School senior Shaynee Monchamp.
The competition began Wednesday with personal interviews and runs through today. The event concludes at 3 p.m. at the high school auditorium with modeling and speeches followed by the coronation at 9 a.m. Sunday at the Churchill County Fairgrounds.
The competition features an array of events including public speaking, horsemanship, personal interviews, modeling and a written rules test of every rodeo event.
Running for queen are Jenni Mann, a sophomore at Foothill High School in Henderson, Kenna Moody, a junior at Centennial in Las Vegas, and Pershing County freshman Sarah Rogers.
“These queens know every rule of every event,” Faught said. “They are very knowledgeable of the sport.”
Faught of Fallon, who is a former state and national queen, is on the offensive to propel Nevada cowgirls to forefront of rodeo. The steady decline of the event has hindered the contest and thrust states such as Utah and Texas into the spotlight.
“There is a lot of misconception,” Faught said. “A lot of people think the queen just wear pretty clothes and rides around on her horse.”
This year’s crop of queen contestants have received some backing from the Nevada State High School Rodeo Association to participate. Faught said the association donated $1,000 to the winner to compete in the national competition during the National High School Finals Rodeo in Rock Springs, Wyo., on from July 14-20.
“We’ve been trying different things and trying to promote the queen contest a lot more because we feel like in Nevada it’s not supported like it should be,” Faught said. “We have six contestants this year, and only two in each of the last three years.”
The lack of support, Faught said, is considered a cowboy state and traditional. In addition, she said those involved with Nevada rodeo do not see the necessity of having a queen.
Faught, however, traces her skills and life lessons to when she competed in the mid-1990s. She won the Silver State International Rodeo crown in 1994, won the Nevada state and national titles in 1995 before graduating in 1997.
“The queen is the spokesperson and ambassador for rodeo,” she said. “I can look back on my life and look at how many times I tied a goat and it’s zero. But I can tell you how many job interviews and job opportunities because I know how to speak in public. I have been given skills and tools that have helped me my entire life.”
Monchamp, meanwhile, is the reigning queen and one of a handful of two-time champs. After capturing last year’s crown, Monchamp placed eighth out of 48 at nationals and first in the photogenic competition.
She will help judge this year’s contest and said the process is grinding on the contestants.
With six participants, Monchamp said it will be a challenge to determine the Silver State’s next queen.
“It’s really difficult to keep up with,” she added. “These girls have been working really hard. It’ll be a really close competition this year.”
Despite her rodeo resume, Monchamp echoed Faught’s comments about putting the queen in limelight to promote rodeo. The queen’s duties include community service and making the rounds at numerous events including the Nationals Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.
With so many big rodeos in the state (NFR, Reno Rodeo, Silver State International Rodeo), Monchamp said the lack of support allows other states to push ahead in notoriety.
“People fail to realize that history and the rodeo is all portrayed through the queen,” she added. “We still have our big hair, we still wear curls, we still wear colored jeans … and we’re the knowledge base of rodeo. Us not being supported is kind of ridiculous because we are home to the biggest rodeo in the world.”