This week's titleholder is making a difference in her community through her platform and service projects she has been promoting. Please help us welcome Susan Rhodes, Miss Mid-South Rodeo 2018!
Photo by: Sherry Smith Photography
For those who aren't familiar with the Miss Mid-South Rodeo Pageant, could you tell us a little bit about it?
The Mid-South Rodeo Queen pageant is a multi-state pageant with divisions from Sweetheart to Miss. The pageant will either be held in conjunction with the Rodeo of the Mid-South in Southaven, MS or the Liberty Bowl Rodeo in Memphis, TN (It's still up in the air). In one day, contestants complete an interview, modeling, impromptu question, short speech, and horsemanship with an interview in the arena followed by coronation that night. It is a jam packed day but so much fun!
How did you get your start in rodeo and rodeo queen pageants?
I have always been a horse girl, however I didn't come from a horse family. Since I got my first horse when I was 12, I have dabbled in so many disciplines and while I don't rodeo myself--though I am trying to squeeze in time to learn how to rope--I have so much respect and appreciation for the sport of rodeo. It's a unique combination of agriculture, ranching, tradition, and sport that you can't see anywhere else. As for rodeo queen pageants, it honestly all started in 2010 when a friend's sister asked me to consider running for the title she directed--Miss Lincoln Riding Club Rodeo. I agreed and started preparing for the rodeo. A week before the pageant, I actually broke my collarbone in a riding fall, but I competed anyway and was runner up!
Following your social media I saw you've started "In Memory Monday". What is it about and why did you decide to start it?
In Memory Monday is all about recognizing the cowboys and cowgirls from across the sport of rodeo who have taken their own life. I started this as part of my platform, Tough Enough to Talk, which emphasizes the importance of talking for mental and emotional health. My dad took his own life in 2010, and I have seen many other friends and family struggle with depression, anxiety, bipolar, and more. By talking about how we feel and our mental health, we help others through their struggles and break down the stigmas surrounding mental health. In Memory Monday is just one piece of my platform, but arguably one of the most important. Cowboys and cowgirls are supposed to be tough, but we can't expect them to be superhuman in dealing with the struggles caused by mental and emotional health. By highlighting these athletes, I hope to show that the rodeo community does care about these things enough to talk about them and encourage others to seek help.
Do you think it is important to have platforms or service projects that they do throughout their reigns?
I believe a platform or service project is very important for a contestant or titleholder to have. If you have a title, you should take advantage of the position you have to make a difference, whether that be large or small. Going into the Miss Mid-South Rodeo pageant, I already knew what my platform was going to be and since then I have worked on developing it further. Having a strong platform helps you stand out as a contestant and then as a titleholder because then you're more than a girl who loves rodeo and looking great. You also care about the world you live in and how you affect others.
Why did you decide to compete for Miss Mid-South Rodeo?
Having just graduated from college last spring, I started thinking about what I wanted to accomplish now that I had time. When I went out of state for school, I put my dream of a crown and the honor to represent rodeo to rest, or so I thought. I realized that I wasn't too old to chase that dream again, so I looked for a pageant that looked fun, low stress, and manageable with a full time job. Once I found the Mid-South Rodeo pageant, I knew that was the one!
What's next on your rodeo queen journey? Do you plan to go on to the state or national level of competition?
I actually just competed for the Miss Rodeo Arkansas title this past March, and am strongly considering competing again next year before I age out. For now though, I'm just focusing on enjoying my title as Miss Mid-South Rodeo and being the best titleholder I can be.
What is one piece of advice you would give to girls that are just starting out in the rodeo queen industry?
Don't be afraid to be different. Be true to yourself! You don't have to run barrels every weekend or come from a ranching family to be a great rodeo queen. The most important thing is a love for rodeo, agriculture, and the western lifestyle, and a willingness to learn the skills needed to be a great titleholder.
To be a successful titleholder you don't have to come from a rodeo background and you don't have to hold a state or national title either. Successful titleholders come from all walks of life and from different pageant levels in the industry. So if you're thinking about competing and win a title, be the best titleholder you can possibly be. Create a platform or service project during your year and make a difference in your community!
Thank you Susan for taking the time out of your schedule to do this interview with us! We wish you the best during the rest of your reign and we can't wait to follow it on social media!
If your interested in following Susan's journey, her Facebook Page is Miss Mid-South Rodeo 2017-2018!
Signing off until next week,
Miss Ozark Rodeo Association Pageant
Photos courtesy of: Susan Rhodes