When following the example of someone great, the old saying goes that you have ‘big boots to fill’. This year, nine Arizona cowgirls experienced exactly that as they prepared for the Miss Rodeo Arizona Pageant 2022.
Going on its 39th year, the Miss Rodeo Arizona Pageant took place September 9-11. For the first time ever, it was held in Queen Creek, Arizona. Over the span of three days, contestants competed in various categories including horsemanship, public speaking, modeling, and personality. The girls that competed meticulously prepared, knowing what a prestigious title they were competing for. Not only was one cowgirl crowned as the new state titleholder, but the contest awarded scholarship monies as well.
This year, however, there was a special element being thrown into the mix of the annual competition. The late Julee Brady, a large contributor to the Miss Rodeo Arizona program and rodeo queen community across the country, is being honored in a tender way at this year’s pageant. With the beginning of a new annual tradition, one competitor was presented with the ‘Julee Brady Award’, separate from the Miss Rodeo Arizona title. The qualifications are solely based on kindness and charity, as Julee was so well known for her kind deeds and Kick’N Up Kindness program.
This year’s excited contestants for Miss Rodeo Arizona included Anna Butler, Codi Ross, Emily Hinkle, Katie Ramos, Kennadee Riggs, and Zipporah Lupe. The Miss Teen Rodeo Arizona competitors included Adie Woodward, Rylee Anforth, and Tova Conner. Being awarded the esteemed title of Miss Rodeo or Teen Rodeo Arizona is not just an accolade. It is a platform to be used for good. This distinguished young woman’s purpose is to represent the Sweetheart State and stand as an advocate for the sport of rodeo, striving to preserve our western heritage. She is poised, personable, diligent, and known for her ability to stick it out in the heat!
As each of these cowgirls brought their best to the 2022 Miss Rodeo Arizona and Miss Teen Rodeo Arizona Pageant, we hope that y’all will show your support by donating to the program or give a warm welcome when they come to a rodeo near you. This year’s Miss Rodeo Arizona is Kennadee Riggs and Miss Teen Rodeo Arizona is Tova Conner. We were able to catch up with Kennadee Riggs to see how she feels after being crowned, check it out below!
CLN: Can you dive a little deeper into what getting the title of Miss Rodeo Arizona means to you?
Kennadee: Words cannot do justice to the feeling of gratitude that rests in my heart after being crowned Miss Rodeo Arizona. This crown has been worn by so many talented, accomplished women before me. But I deeply believe it’s not just the title that is so meaningful. The true honor lies in what the titleholder does with such a huge platform. It is meant to be maximized and used for good. My grandmother, Julee Brady, taught me these very truths growing up. She mentored and led many young women into the title of Miss Rodeo Arizona, and she excitedly prepared me to run when my time came as well. Just over a year ago, we unexpectedly lost her to cancer. I cannot accurately describe how close to her I have felt while preparing to compete. Now more than ever, with this sentimental crown on my head, it means everything to me knowing I reached what we worked so hard together to achieve. I am so excited to have her at my side, in spirit, as I go throughout my year striving to emulate her bright example.
CLN: What are you most looking forward to accomplishing this year?
Kennadee: As a rodeo queen, not only do I get to travel the state promoting the sport of rodeo, but I also have the opportunity to carry a platform with me and promote it as well. I have chosen to build upon the Kicking Up Kindness platform; a deep legacy in my family. Tova Conner, 2022 Miss Teen Rodeo Arizona, will join me in inviting everyone possible to regularly participate in community service across the state of Arizona. Not only will we find joy in serving others, but we will get to promote the sport of rodeo and the western way of life as we cross paths with diverse groups of people along the way. I am especially excited to visit local schools, senior centers, and public events, educating everyone within the sound of my voice on our western heritage, in addition to advocating for kindness. It is going to be such a great year!
CLN: What are some words of encouragement you can give to anyone wanting to get involved in rodeo royalty?
Kennadee: The best thing you can do to become a great rodeo queen is to strive to be a good person. Things such as kindness, integrity, honesty, and hard work, are all the greatest accomplishments a rodeo queen could have under her belt. Work hard to become as educated as you can be in horsemanship and rodeo. But truly, the foundation of a great rodeo queen is genuine character and passion for what she does.
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