Three cowgirls competed to be the next Rodeo of the Ozarks Queen.
“I had grown up at the Rodeo of the Ozarks, so to me this was the biggest rodeo in the world, and I was so honored and I worked really hard. I can’t even explain how excited I was,” said 25-year-old Rikki Bitner, who was the 2011 rodeo queen.
This year's contestants are Kelsey Parmenter of Pea Ridge, Monica Gonzales of Perryville and Charley Stephenson of Tontitown.
“It’s crazy because we are so busy. But those girls are fantastic and it’s going to be a really close call because they are all equally as good,” Bitner said.
The three contestants are judged on their interview skills, modeling, personality and horsemanship, which will determine who will be next queen.
“They have to be very knowledgeable because there is a horse involved, they have to be a cowgirl, they have to be able to ride, so this is just much more than just a contest,” Zenda Rutherford, pageant chaperone, said.
The queen represents and promotes this rodeo for a year, traveling to other rodeos country.
“They ride in parades, they are hot, they are sweaty, but they are always going to have a smile on their face because we want people to know about the Rodeo of the Ozarks and they are the person that everyone sees,” Rutherford said.
The winner gets a handmade saddle, crown, a buckle and cash prize.
“There is a lot of work that goes into it, so these girls that compete really have to want the title,” Bitner said.
The winner of the 2012 Queen Pageant is Charley Stephenson of Tontitown.