Glamorous long leather dresses, 20-gallon cowboy hats, horseback riding, proud Californian speeches, 11 lovely cowgirls and three expert judges were the sights of the Miss Rodeo California 2006 pageant held Sept. 27 to Sept. 30 in San Dimas.
For more than a decade, San Dimas has served as a headquarters for this statewide event produced by a non-profit corporation.
All of the contestants have previously won Rodeo Queen titles in their hometowns and have played active roles in their communities.
From Sept. 27 to Sept. 29, contestants participated in judged events including a horsemanship competition, personality interviews, biographic speeches, impromptu questions,
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California speeches and modeling.
During these events, the contestants were judged in three categories: horsemanship, appearance and personality.
“I think the speaking part is the most difficult for them, most of these contestants have spent most of their life riding horses, and the personality and appearance comes fairly easy,” said A.F. “Shorty” Feldbush, executive director of Miss Rodeo California.
“The speeches are just so hard to memorize, especially since they wake us up early, so we’re all very tired,” Miss Rodeo Livermore Anna Bavor said.
Kayla Spurlock, the reigning Miss Rodeo California 2005, served as Master of Ceremonies at the pageant’s events.
“Miss Rodeo California is the first lady of rodeo in the state of California, she is an ambassador, she is spokesperson and her number one job is to promote the sport of professional rodeo,” Spurlock said.
“I am basically the liaison between the public and the rodeo world. I’m there to educate people, who are not necessarily familiar that rodeo has actually had a huge impact on our society as a whole, in the agricultural community, and it has had a huge impact on our economy in California,” Spurlock added.
During Spurlock’s reign, she traveled throughout California and the western United States, educating people on the rodeo lifestyle and the state’s western heritage, and speaking at many different service clubs.
She encourages the new Miss Rodeo California to embrace the opportunities the pageant offers to the winner.
“Enjoy it while it lasts, because time flies by,” Spurlock said.
“It’s a lot of fun, it’s a lot of work, but it’s all well worth it and you get out of it what you put into it and you make your year the way you want it to be,” she added.
Brittany Nuckols was crowned Miss Rodeo California 2006 on Friday evening, Sept. 30 during the Coronation Dinner at the Shilo Inn Grand Ballroom in Pomona. Nuckols, a Kinesiology major at Cal State San Bernardino, entered the pageant as Miss Rodeo Bakersfield.
Nuckols swept the pageant, winning titles in the speech, appearance, personality and horsemanship categories.
As winner of Miss Rodeo California, Nuckols will receive a $1,000 scholarship, generously donated from New Spirit Natural, the use of a 2005 Toyota
Tundra during her year long reign; the use of a Circle J Horse Trailer; a trophy saddle; a trophy buckle; and many more awards. One of the most valuable awards Nuckols will receive is the chance to nationally represent California at the Miss Rodeo America pageant in 2007.
Nuckols will also have the opportunity to travel around the state promoting professional rodeo and becoming involved in many different communities.
Nuckols competed against 10 other contestants from cities including Salinas, Sonora, Jurupa, Livermore, Ramona, San Francisco, Hayward, Banning, Redding and Tehachapi.
Although the contestants faced close competition in the events, they developed close comradeships.
“The most rewarding part is that I have made 10 new friends, and all the girls here have been absolutely wonderful,” Bavor said.
The purpose of the Miss Rodeo California and America pageants is to educate the public on the importance of rodeo and to prove how the sport plays a major role in California’s history.
“The importance in California is huge, there are many people that don’t even understand rodeo, and there are rodeos all over California and I believe that it’s the second leading state for rodeos besides Texas and so I think there are a lot California rodeos that tend to get overlooked,” Bavor said.
All of the contestants mentioned the California’s western heritage in their California speeches.
“Rodeo is about bringing back our western heritage and everything that has happened in our past,” Miss Rodeo Tehachapi Julie Jeagers said. “If it wasn’t for rodeo, we wouldn’t be associated with the wild west.”
Nicole Knight can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.