By Wrangler Network contributor Miss Rodeo America
From the small town of Okeechobee, Florida; I am Miss Rodeo Florida, Kelly Steinruck. Most people think of beaches and Disney World when they think of Florida, I actually live thirty minutes from civilization, surrounded by cattle. The largest dairy in the state is located just down the road.
I grew up on the Atlantic Coast in Fort Pierce, Florida. We had dolphins swimming in the Indian River Lagoon in our front yard and horses in the backyard. I was the first rodeo queen to walk the halls of my College Prep School located on the barrier island.
We learned about Marine Biology while sitting on the beach. I always enjoyed sharing the sport of rodeo and western way of life with everyone I came in contact with, especially my schoolmates, who had never been to a rodeo. Growing up my family would escape the harsh Florida summers, to my grandparent’s Limousin Cattle Ranch in Loveland, Colorado. My love of rodeo was born there. The rodeos that impacted me most were the Larimer County Fair, the Greeley Stampede, and the Estes Park Rooftop Rodeo. It was rodeo queens like Tara Graham, Christy Spurlock, and Tara Spencer that inspired me to become Miss Rodeo Florida.
I was very involved in 4-H on both the state and local levels. I was the District 11 President for two years and my 4-H Club President for three years. I enjoyed attending different leadership events. My favorite trip was to the 4-H National Headquarters in Washington D.C. for the 4-H Citizen Washington Focus. We learned how to improve our local 4-H programs and become better citizens in our communities. I also enjoyed showing my western pleasure horse, Spot, at 4-H and open AQHA shows. We qualified for the Area, State, and Regional 4-H horse shows multiple years.
Eventually I found the Miss Rodeo Florida Association. I had always dreamed of becoming a rodeo queen, so my mom and I went to the pageant to learn more about rodeo queens. Everyone was very welcoming and we later found ourselves at the Miss Rodeo Florida Clinic. I was shy at the age of 14. I kept trying to convince my mom to leave but she made me stick it out. I am so glad she did. I began my rodeo queen journey as a shy little girl and now I speak in front of crowds full of hundreds of people. Confidence is just one of the many things I have gained from being a rodeo queen. In college I would have mock business interviews that were a piece of cake compared to the Horsemanship Interviews we all experience during pageants. I lost my fair share of rodeo queen pageants but I never gave up. I learned something from every pageant and made great new friends. Eventually I won the title of Miss Teen Rodeo Florida in 2011.
During my year as Miss Teen Rodeo Florida, I decided to invite my fellow state Teen Queens down to a Florida rodeo. Six years later my family and the Miss Rodeo Florida Association are still hosting the Miss Rodeo Florida Teen Weekend. This year we had a record 19 state Teen Queens from all over the country. It is a special weekend that is all about the Teen Queens. They get to experience Disney World, see alligators on an airboat ride at Wild Florida, and ride horses on the beach, but most of all they have the opportunity to meet each other. I believe that if these girls create friendships with other rodeo queens, then they will want to continue to compete in pageants and promote the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. I enjoyed the Miss Rodeo Florida Teen Weekend this year as not only a host and chaperone but also as Miss Rodeo Florida.
It is hard to believe that this year is almost half way over. Our Florida rodeo season has slowed for the summer. Unlike most states, our rodeo season is in the winter with very few rodeos in the summer. It is simply too hot. I have already attended 11 different rodeos in Florida, including the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo.
I have had so many wonderful experiences during my year. I was announced as Miss Rodeo Florida by Boyd Polhamus, carrying the National Western Stock Show flag in Denver. I have traveled across the country to the Lakeside Rodeo in California. It was Miss Rodeo California, Rachel’s, first California rodeo and it was in her hometown. What an honor to share that moment with her. During the Brighton Field Day Festival and Rodeo in Florida, I had the opportunity to carry the American Flag while my alma mater, the Florida State University Marching Band played the National Anthem. It was very special as two of my favorite worlds came together in the rodeo arena.
I truly believe that it is the people that make our jobs as rodeo queens so special. I have already developed wonderful friendships with my fellow state queens, rodeo committee members, announcers, cowboys, flag girls, and fans that I have met. I am looking forward to spending the summer travelling, and promoting the PRCA at rodeos in Colorado, Wyoming, Washington, and Nebraska.