ST.GEORGE – The St. George Lions Club crowned the 2015 Dixie Roundup Queen and Princess Thursday at the Dixie Sunbowl.
Sarah Kemp, 17, took the title of queen, as well as the awards for speech, interview, photogenic, horsemanship and appearance in the queen category. McKinley Drake, 16, won the princess crown, and she was also awarded for interview, appearance and horsemanship in the princess category.
This year’s pageant included seven contestants. The queen category had three competitors while four girls tried to get the title of princess.
The other competitors for queen were: Courtney Payne, who was named first runner-up and Miss Congeniality; and Naomi Weida, the second runner-up.
The other princess contestants were: Ashtyn Anderson, runner-up; Cierra Christensen, winner of the photogenic and Miss Congeniality awards; and Aubrey Schafer, winner of the speech award.
The contestants presented skills in horsemanship, modeling and speech to a panel of three judges.
Jenna Henry, former Miss Rodeo Minnesota and one of the judges, said while all of the girls were strong contenders, the winners showed in-depth knowledge in topics such as horsemanship, horse care and the rules of rodeo.
She said that another main thing they look for in the contestants is personality.
“We want to see the girls that have the personality to go out there and be in front of kindergarteners one second and then talking to the governor one hour later,” she said.
Kemp said she competed to keep the tradition going in her family, as her mother had been a Dixie Roundup Rodeo Queen when she was younger.
Kemp was Rodeo Princess 2013, and therefore is a returning contestant to the competition.
She said she prepared for this year’s pageant by asking many different people their opinions on how she was doing in the different categories, and by spending “a lot of time in the saddle.”
Kemp praised the organizers of the pageant, saying each year is better than the last.
“It’s always something new and something different with Dixie Roundup,” she said. “They always go big or go home. … it’s always something to look forward to.”
Jamie Udell, former Dixie Roundup Rodeo Queen and former Miss Rodeo Utah, said as a volunteer with the pageant, one thing they did differently this year was add a freestyle section to the horsemanship contest.
Udell said the queen and princess should be able to educate the public about rodeo and be personable.
“We have lots of kids that are going to be looking up to these girls and wanting to be them someday and so somebody who is knowledgeable, loves school and can also talk about our sport will be a good representative,” she said.
Drake has a similar story to Kemp’s, following in the footsteps of her mother, who won both titles of queen and princess when she was younger.
Drake said she has been competing in contests like this since she was 10, and has learned a lot from them.
“I feel like rodeo queen prepares you for life. It’s teaching you interview skills, it’s teaching you public speaking skills, it’s teaching you grace and modeling, it’s teaching you the ability to think quickly on your feet and interview in impromptu, so I feel like it’s getting me ready for life and my job later on,” Drake said.
She said she thought all of the girls did well in the competition and that the important thing was that she tried her best.
“That’s really all you can do,” Drake said.
Kemp and Drake will show off their rodeo skills at the 81st annual Dixie Roundup on Sept. 17, 18 and 19.
The queen title is open to ladies between the ages of 17 and 24 while princesses must be between the ages of 14 and 16.
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