This week we're headed back to the home of Mount Rushmore! We are featuring the current Miss Rodeo South Dakota, Kay Marrs! Keep reading to see what life has been like for Kay since she won the title of Miss Rodeo South Dakota and what she's looking forward to in the remainder of her year as she continues traveling the country and preparing for Miss Rodeo America in December!
How did you become involved in rodeo and rodeo queen pageants?
I was one of those little girls that always loved, loved, loved rodeos and rodeo queens. I collected rodeo queen autographs for years and even made a scrapbook of them all; it was always my dream to be one of the ladies in my scrapbook that I looked up to. I grew up on a ranch and have always been comfortable around cattle and on the back of a horse but because my parents never rodeoed, it wasn't something that I was brought up with or knew was an option for me to participate in. Fast forward a few years and I decided I wanted to try a rodeo queen pageant but due to some other circumstances, it didn't work out. A little later, I was asked by a neighbor if I would consider running for Jr. Miss Rodeo SD. I was a little hesitant because it was a state pageant and I didn't have any rodeo queen experience under my belt but ultimately decided to go for it. I can honestly say that God must have wanted me there because He brought so many people out of the woodwork that offered to help me, from interview practice to horsemanship and borrowing clothes, He blessed me beyond measure just through those people before I even got to the pageant. I was fortunate to win JRMRSD and truly had a remarkable time, and that was it, I was hooked! The rest they say, is history and here I am as MRSD 2018!
Why did you decide to compete for the title of Miss Rodeo South Dakota?
Like I mentioned above, it was always my dream to be Miss Rodeo South Dakota. Besides being a time to travel to rodeos across the country and meet some amazing people, it's also a unique opportunity to not only advocate for the sport of rodeo but agriculture as well. Being a voice for agriculture has always been a huge passion of mine and to be able to combine that passion and love of rodeo into one, is truly a dream job and one I wouldn't trade for the world! I also wanted to be able to do the same for children today that rodeo queens did for me when I was young; be a positive influence and light for Jesus in a world that desperately needs kindness and hope.
I saw on your social media you did a lot before taking over the title of Miss Rodeo South Dakota as the Lady-in-waiting including attending the Miss Rodeo America Pageant last December. What did you learn from watching and do you feel more relaxed during your prep for Miss Rodeo America this year?
Yes and no haha! It was incredibly helpful to see every part of the public aspect of the pageant to get an idea of what would be expected of me. No matter what pageants you have been to or competed in, MRA is at another level and it was good to see it up close and personal. I'm one of those people that makes "game plans" in my head so to be there to take notes on what to expect was helpful! It will be a little different than what I saw at the MGM, as the pageant this year will be moved to The Tropicana but much of the pageant will be the same.
What has been one of your favorite appearances thus far as Miss Rodeo South Dakota and what is one thing you are looking forward to during the remainder of your reign?
Picking a favorite appearance is like asking a parent to pick a favorite child! There have been so many fantastic experiences so far and the year is only half over. One of my favorite things I've been able to be a part of as MRSD at a few rodeos is being part of a "wish" with the Children's Western Wish Foundation. The foundation was started by one of the most kind, selfless, and giving gals I have ever met. One wish in particular belonged to a sweet little girl who had been through so much, medically, and her wish was to be a rodeo princess. She was presented with a cowboy hat covered with signatures of contestants, rodeo personnel, and rodeo queens, and also her very own tiara, belt buckle, and queen sash. One of the pickup men then ponied her around the arena for her queen run! I have never seen so much joy on a little girl's face in my life and it was such a priceless experience that will always hold a special place in my heart. I am genuinely looking forward to more time together with my sash sisters. We truly have a group of state queens that are genuine, kind, passionate about rodeo, and just plain fun to be around! It's been such a blast to travel with them and I'm looking forward to more memories made with them this year!
What is one obstacle you faced while preparing for the Miss Rodeo South Dakota pageant and how did you overcome it?
I had two goals going into MRSD: I wanted to win the categories of horsemanship and speech. Coming up with a game plan to be confident with the extemporaneous speeches was an obstacle I knew I had to tackle. 4 months before the pageant, my mom would give me a random topic, set a timer for 10 minutes, and in then I would give a speech on the topic. Honestly, I was terrible at first! I rambled, did weird things with my hands, and was either over or under time. We did that at least every other day for those 4 months. Eventually, I figured out how to organize my thoughts and what I could fit into 1.5-2 minutes. That helped tremendously and when it came to the speech portion of the pageant, I wasn't nervous and delivered a speech that was clear, in the time allotment, and helped me win the speech category!
What do you think is the most important characteristic a rodeo queen should have?
I can't say just one; I have two must-haves! Teachability and a servant heart. Always be willing to learn, because we won't ever know everything and being open to new information or a new way to do something and being willing to learn will take you far, not just in rodeo queening, but life in general. Being a servant means being willing to help out in any way possible, no matter where you are. Pitch in and help out wherever you go! The smallest act of kindness can make a huge impact that we may never know about.
What is one piece of advice your director, Cindy Wilk, has given you during your reign that you will cherish even after you give up your title?
Cindy is absolutely amazing, I basically have her on speed dial. We talk almost on a daily basis, not because we have to, but because we've become friends and just enjoy talking to one another, whether it's rodeo queen related or not. One thing that she has always told me that I will never forget, is to be myself and not to change who I am for anyone or anything. God made me "me" and nothing about that needs to change!
If you could give just one tip or trick on rodeo queening to girls that are new in the industry, what would it be?
You do not have to spend a fortune to go after your rodeo queen dreams! When I ran for JRMRSD, 80% of my clothes were borrowed and I won. My mom sews shirts and dresses for me and I put crystals on them. I've found shirts at thrift stores and turned them into queen shirts. I know lots of gals that swap and borrow clothes too. One more little tip I would pass along for girls that are starting out on this wonderful rodeo queen journey: if you're serious about being a rodeo queen, invest in a good hat. Our cowboy hats are the most recognizable piece of clothing that we wear. People, young and old see our hats and immediately think "cowgirl!" You don't need to spend a fortune, but get one good hat that fits and is shaped nicely. And get lots of bobby pins to make sure it stays on in the arena! I wish I had stock in bobby pins for as many as I go through! A few final words; while our outward appearance is a large part of being a queen, it is so much more important that we are beautiful on the inside first! One of my favorite quotes is from Thomas Payne and he sums it up perfectly, "Reputation is what men and women think of us, character is what God and angels know of us." Remember that nothing is ever impossible, be true to yourself, and enjoy the ride!
Kay makes a very good point during this interview about how you don't need to spend a fortune to be a successful rodeo queen. Often times girls are too afraid to compete in rodeo pageants because of the cost of clothing, which should never be a reason to not chase your dreams. Having the most expensive clothes doesn't make you a better person on the inside either. To be successful, you have to remain true to yourself throughout the entire competition and even if you are crowned as the queen. As far as clothes, swap shop facebook groups are amazing! You never know what you are going to find for such a low cost!
Until next time,
Miss Ozark Rodeo Association Pageant
Photos courtesy of Kay Marrs