COLUMBIA — Brooke Wright wore a long-sleeve red leather top with matching red jeans.
Madeline Cuppy's attire included a turquoise long-sleeve top and blue jeans studded with bright plastic jewels.
Both girls wore big belt buckles, cowboy boots and, of course, large cowboy hats. For rodeo queens, like in any other pageant, bigger is better, Wright said.
Wright, 16, from Bolivar, and Cuppy, 15, from Atlanta, Mo., are the contestants in this year's queen competition at the Missouri High School Rodeo Finals. They are the only ones left in the event that started with 13 girls and two practice clinics.
The amount of work the queen will have to do over the next year, the amount of work they have already had to put in, to say nothing of some of the costs involved, is why 11 competitors have dropped out of the running.
Brooke Wright's mother, Selicia Wright, who coordinates the events for the rodeo's queen competition, says just taking part in the rodeo is expensive and that adding in the cost of the outfits rodeo queens typically wear, which can run anywhere from $3,000 to $6,000, makes entering prohibitive.
But many feel the price is worth it.
Madeline Cuppy’s mother, Melissa Cuppy, said there are benefits.
“We want her to gain experience and self confidence,” Melissa Cuppy said.
Selicia Wright agrees and said she thinks being the rodeo queen provides a great opportunity for the girls as mentors for the community.
“It gives her self confidence and exposure that a lot of girls will never experience,” Selicia Wright said.
Brooke Wright’s mother tried to convince her to compete in the queen competition for the past couple of years and decided to quit asking. But this year, Brooke Wright surprised her family and joined the competition. While it's her first time to enter the queen competition, it will be her second year to compete in the rodeo. This year, she will compete in breakaway roping, goat tying and barrel racing.
Madeline Cuppy is competing in barrel racing and goat tying at the rodeo this year and decided to compete in the queen competition for the first time this year at the request of her mother and father.
The judges, all former queens, rated the girls in several different categories, four of which were open to the public Wednesday.
The modeling session was first, followed by an impromptu question. Brooke Wright was asked about her career aspirations (pediatric cardiologist), and Madeline Cuppy was asked about her favorite subject in school (English).
The girls then gave a speech. Wright spoke about the “Gateway to the West,” while Cuppy gave a speech about “Farm Life in Rural Missouri.”
There’s a written test covering the Missouri High School Rodeo rulebook and a brief interview session with the judges, but for the girls, the best part of the queen competition is horsemanship.
The girls take turns riding a specific pattern given to them by the National Rodeo Queen Competition. This pattern is the performance pattern the queen will ride when she carries in the American flag at the beginning of high school rodeos across the state.
The 2012-13 queen will be announced Saturday and will immediately will take over responsibilities from 2011-12 queen Amee Riley. The new queen will compete in July for National High School Rodeo Queen.
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