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Reigning Miss Rodeo America revels in once-in-a-lifetime opportunity

Updated December 8, 2022 - 12:19 am

Little did 12-year-old Johnstown Saddle Club Princess Hailey Frederiksen know: Just a decade after meeting Miss Rodeo Colorado and Miss Rodeo America, she would fulfill her rodeo queening ambitions and capture both of those titles.

“I looked at them and I thought to myself, ‘They’re beautiful, they’re intelligent, they speak well, they can ride horses, and they’re cowgirls,’ ” Frederiksen said. “I thought, ‘How cool would that be to be them someday?’ ”

That dream came true on Dec. 5, 2021, as she was crowned Miss Rodeo America at the South Point.

A first-generation college graduate from Colorado State University with a bachelor’s degree in animal sciences and a minor in agricultural business, Frederiksen was Miss Rodeo Colorado for two years before her reign as the official representative of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

Since then, she has traveled across the country, appearing at rodeo performances and special events to educate the public on agriculture and promote the sport of rodeo.

As Frederiksen’s yearlong journey comes to an end, a new young woman’s dream will come true at the Miss Rodeo America pageant taking place Nov. 27 to Dec. 4.

Review-Journal: Describe a Miss Rodeo competition.

Hailey Frederiksen: We are sometimes compared to your regular pageantry system like Miss USA or Miss America. However, our talent is horses. We are judged on three major categories, which are personality, appearance and horsemanship. Typically, we start off the pageant with horsemanship where we get on to draw horses that are not our own. (I have five great horses at home, but you’ll never see me ride my own.) So we do a horsemanship pattern. And we go into two interviews, which are a horsemanship interview and a personality interview. Then we do extemporaneous speaking, where we have to prepare a minute-and-a-half speech in 10 minutes. We also do impromptu questions, a written test and modeling.

Describe your experience competing for Miss Rodeo America.

Crazy. Stressful. (Laughs.) … We only get one shot to try out for Miss Rodeo America. If we don’t win that first year we can never return back and compete for it. You’re really laying everything you have on the line during those eight days in hopes of winning the title of Miss Rodeo America. I knew I had done all I could to do well. And at this point, you know, I completely trusted in God and what he had in store for me because he had treated me so well these past two years that I knew he was going to take good care of me as long as I was willing to work hard for it.

What has your experience been like since being crowned Miss Rodeo America?

It has been go, go, go. I remember when I was signing my contract, not even an hour after I had won, it said, “So are you OK with only being home around 20 days this entire year?” But it’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I want to make the most of it, and to be able to travel as much as I have everywhere from as far east as Florida to as far west as Washington state, it has been an opportunity that I will never forget.

Did you have any challenges this year that you had to overcome?

The biggest reason why I didn’t win Miss Rodeo Colorado my first year was that … the judges said that they didn’t see who I was as Hailey Frederiksen. They didn’t know who I was. So, just making sure that I was myself throughout this entire process has been very important to me. We’re all unique. And it’s important that we showcase that. So, just remembering to be myself has been probably one of the hardest challenges I’ve faced, but I think I’ve done all right.

You were a big advocate for agriculture during your reign as Miss Rodeo Colorado. How did you continue to advocate for it as Miss Rodeo America?

My platform is to be an “agvocate”— advocating for agriculture. I grew up in Weld County, which is the No. 1 ag producing county in Colorado, and growing up in an agricultural community, it seemed right for that to be my platform. I get a lot of chances to speak on public forums, so every chance I get I try to talk about that and educate people.

What advice would you give to the next Miss Rodeo America?

Just being yourself and knowing that not everyone is going to like you. Especially in the pageant system, you run into a lot of people that have different opinions about you, and that’s just when you have to be OK with who you are.

What advice do you have for young women interested in competing in the rodeo world?

I tell girls even if you have a sliver of a thought of trying out for a title, just do it because you never know what may happen. … I always say, “Winners were losers once who tried one more time.”

What’s your plan for after the next Miss Rodeo America is crowned?

​​This is my dream job. So, what’s my second dream job gonna be? I will be moving out to Oklahoma next year. I have received over $20,000 in educational scholarships through the Miss Rodeo America organization. I’ll be using those towards a master’s degree from Oklahoma State University in agricultural communications.

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