This week we are headed back to Oregon just in time for the Miss Rodeo Oregon 2019 pageant to feature the current Miss Rodeo Oregon! Please help us welcome Jessi Conforth as our featured titleholder! She talks about her year so far and her personal platform that she has been promoting! Also, if you're in Oregon be sure to catch the Miss Rodeo Oregon pageant being held this weekend!
What is your background in rodeo and rodeo queen pageants?
My background is actually much more limited than people originally think. I am a first generation cowgirl through and through. My parents had never grown up ranching or with any sort of livestock so it was a big learning curve when they bought my first horse when I was nine years old. Owning a horse in general was an idea that we stumbled across by accident, and we had no clue that it would be the best thing that ever happened to me. With my first horse, Jazz, I completed all nine years of horse 4-H, and was very active on my Oregon High School Equestrian Team. I was drill captain all four years, and team captain for my final two. I also competed at local playdays, barrel races, and ranch sortings.
As for rodeo queening, I essentially looked at my mom one day and asked how she felt about me trying out for the local rodeo court. I had a close family friend who had been on the court a few years prior, so she helped me prepare. I tried out for another rodeo court two weeks before my local court, so I could have some practice. That pageant went well and I was chosen as one of the princesses. I met the court coordinator, who was Miss Rodeo Oregon in 2009, and she educated me on the Miss Rodeo Oregon program and I never looked back. The next year I was queen of the same local court with plans already forming to run for Miss Rodeo Oregon.
Why did you decide to run for Miss Rodeo Oregon?
I was inspired to run for Miss Rodeo Oregon because of the people who helped get me into rodeo queening in the first place. I was not the most confident girl growing up, but they helped build me up and made me believe that I could be something more than just myself. After I graduated from Oregon State University in 2016, I bought myself a two and a half year old gelding named Dually and started preparing day in and day out. The aspect of rodeo queening that I was least confident in was horsemanship, so learning with such a young horse kept me honest in my riding and I started working with a few different horse trainers. They would give me “homework” to do with Dually, and also put me on different horses. Now Dually is my best pal and I feel so much more confident riding a variety of horses.
Jessi and her four year old horse, Dually, at the Grand Floral Parade in Portland, Oregon
I’ve noticed through your social media you have a platform. Could you tell us what it is and why you chose to promote it while being Miss Rodeo Oregon?
My platform for my year is raising money for the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund through the hashtag #flexforjccf. The way it works is people take a picture with me while we flex our muscles, and then that person and myself can post the picture to Instagram or Facebook with the hashtag. Then on the very last day of my reign, I will count all of the pictures under the hashtag on both social media sites and donate $1 for every photo. Between the number of pictures that have already been posted and with people pledging to either match me dollar for dollar or with a straight donation, we are currently sitting around $2,500 donated.
I chose this platform because I wanted my year to be more than just about myself. The Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund was the perfect organization to choose because one of the career options I am looking at is athletic training and my dream is to be a part of the Justin Sports Medicine Team. The pictures are fun to take and people enjoy learning why we are flexing, plus the hashtag makes keeping track of photos really easy.
What are you most looking forward to during the rest of your year and as you prepare to compete in the Miss Rodeo America Pageant in December?
I am most looking forward for the summer run of rodeo season to start. I have about a three week period where I am at a rodeo every single day, and it will be busy but very rewarding. I really enjoy meeting new people at rodeos. I also think this will help me with my preparations for Miss Rodeo America because I will be immersed in rodeo all day every day so I will have a better time remembering all the rules and top cowboys and cowgirls.
What was it like to get to experience Rodeo Houston and be a part of it?
Rodeo Houston was a trip of a lifetime, and I would recommend it to any current or aspiring state queen. You spend most of your day taking care of the Cervi Championship Rodeo flag horses, but then you also ride in the grand entry and work the rodeo. We were given different jobs to do during the rodeo; holding judges’ horses, running gates, or taking care of pickup horses. I worked a gate both weeks that I was there, and I learned so much about the behind the scenes of the rodeo on the roughstock side. It was also a great time to bond with some of the other current titleholders and learn from the past ones that were there as well. The free concert each night after the performance was just a cherry on top.
RODEOHOUSTON Pivot Girls participating in Jessi's #flexforjccf platform
You travel so many miles throughout your year, that I’m sure you’re an expert at packing by now. What is one item that you always pack in your suitcase?
I always have water with me! Staying healthy and hydrated while on the road is critical to being a successful queen. When I drive to rodeos, I drink pure coconut water. For flying, I always have an empty water bottle in my carry-on because you can fill it for free after you get through security.
Besides winning the title of Miss Rodeo America, what is your goal going in to the pageant?
My goal at Miss Rodeo America is to walk off that stage at the end of the week knowing I stayed true to myself and gave it everything I had. I am my biggest critic, so I really want to be proud of myself.
What has been your most memorable experience so far of being Miss Rodeo Oregon?
While I was in Florida we had the opportunity to attend a party at “Give Kids The World”. It is a resort for families with terminally ill children where they get an all-expenses paid week-long vacation. We were part of the Halloween party, and it was so incredible to see the joy on the kids’ faces as we danced with them, played games, and handed out candy. It was also extra special for me because the main coordinator of the program was from Clackamas, Oregon!
Jessi with the coordinator for Give Kids The World in Florida
How did attending and watching the 2018 Miss Rodeo America Pageant help you prepare for your year as Miss Rodeo Oregon and preparing for Miss Rodeo America?
Watching the 2018 MRA Pageant was vital to my success this year. It helped me realize aspects of the pageant that I could start preparing for now, and what I could expect for when I compete. It was also part of how my #flexforjccf platform got started, because I was inspired at the MRA introductions listening to all the great things the current titleholders had used their year for.
What is one piece of advice you would give to any girl starting out the in the rodeo queen industry?
I have found that the most important thing when rodeo queening is to stay true to yourself. Use pageants and your title as opportunities to learn about your strengths, weaknesses, and what makes you most happy in life. Unfortunately we cannot please everyone all the time, but we are completely in control of our own happiness. So learn and grow with the process, but do not let it overrun your own beautiful personality and what you as an individual bring to the title.
Hot lap on Pete Carr's Pro Rodeo horse "Scoot" in Guymon, Oklahoma
Jessi has spent her year traveling the country and promoting her platform #flexforjccf and she has been doing a wonderful job. I encourage every rodeo queen and contestant to create a platform to promote throughout your reigns, it will make it so much more memorable and people will remember you because of it.
We wish Jessi the best of luck this December as she competes for the title of Miss Rodeo America! Thank you so much for doing this interview with us and enjoy the rest of your year!
Until next time.
Miss Ozark Rodeo Association