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Friday, Aug. 26, 2016

Being queen involves lots of work, publicity

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Sikeston Jaycee Bootheel Rodeo queen Andrea Duncan parades around the arena.
SIKESTON -- Being rodeo royalty may mean wearing shiny outfits and riding in the grand entry and victory lap.

But any rodeo queen will tell you it's a lot more work than that. There's also a lot of work and publicity they do behind the scenes, like visiting and handing out autographs at nursing homes and hospitals.

"It's hard work, but it pays off in the end," said Andrea Duncan, 18, this year's rodeo queen.

The junior queen, Kaitlin Ray, 15, agreed. "I knew we were going to have to do a lot of stuff, but I knew it would be worth the hard work," she said. The expectations aren't just hearsay, either. They are outlined when girls sign up to be in the pageant.

"The entry form clearly states their responsibilities and the importance of the responsibilities," said Rebecca Throop, pageant coordinator. "We emphasize that to all the girls that are in the pageants."

To become rodeo royalty, one needs riding experience. "There's a set pattern you have to ride," Duncan said. The rest of their scores depend on interviews, a speech on stage and modeling.

Duncan has competed in pole bending, barrel racing and goat tying at rodeos. Ray, on the other hand, frequently rides for pleasure.

Each night, the girls participated in the grand entry, take turns riding the victory lap, and poke up the cattle -- pushing them out of the arena and into the pen, Duncan explained.

Unfortunately, Wednesday night wasn't too smooth for Ray, who only participated in the grand entry and queen's entrance. "I had trouble with my horse," she said. "I was really looking forward to (the victory lap) -- some people I knew won a couple of the events. But oh well, things happen."

Ray said her horse just got scared, and she rode a different horse for the rest of the rodeo.

Events are planned for the royalty to interact with the community. Since Wednesday, they visited hospitals and nursing homes to sign autographs and chat with patients each day.

Both girls said the visits made them a bit nervous. "It's more one on one," Ray said.

Patrick Douglas, publicity co-chairman for the Jaycees, said their fears were typical of other royalty. He said he often encourages the girls to interact, while staying in the background.

The visits are reflective of one of the major goals of the rodeo -- to reach out to those in Sikeston and the surrounding area. "These visits are the best things we do at rodeo," Douglas said. "We make people smile, laugh, or just look surprised."

For the most part, a day for the queens begins at 7 a.m. "And we won't be done until 12 at night," Ray said. But Thursday started a bit earlier for the girls, who had to be at the rodeo grounds at 5:50 a.m. to promote the rodeo on KFVS12 and two radio programs. "It was an early morning for us," Duncan said.

Their practice Wednesday at Missouri Delta Medical Center and the Convalescent Center helped alleviate their nerves before appearing on TV and radio. "I think it was good that I got some other interaction with people before I did that," Ray said.

Despite their fears of some of the personal interaction, the prospect of riding in the arena every night was exciting, especially for Duncan. "I love being in the lights," Duncan said. "Once I hit the arena, it's just home."

Ray, who isn't so accustomed to the arena, had different feelings. "I'm excited and nervous," she said.

The queens also participated in the parade. The bulk of their duties concluded Saturday night, but they will play a part in helping publicize and run next year's pageant.

The girls said they are loving every minute of it and agree with the Jaycees they could use more time.

"Our time is really limited," Douglas said. "We always wish we could do more."