Glam in a world of grit: Dixie Roundup Queen Sarah Kemp

ST. GEORGE – Rodeo was born out of the western lifestyle. The job of Roundup Queen is to promote understanding of that way of life. Sarah Kemp, this year’s Dixie Roundup Queen, is proud to do just that.

“It’s something that I like to share with people because I was blessed enough to grow up in this lifestyle,” she said. “Not everyone gets that, so anyway I can share it is a good way that I can help the public.”

Dixie Roundup Queen Sarah Kemp, St. George, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Sarah Kemp, St. George News
Dixie Roundup Queen Sarah Kemp, St. George area, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Sarah Kemp, St. George News

A natural horsewoman, Kemp family photo albums are filled with her earliest moments on horseback.

“We have pictures of me when I was just a little baby and I’m sitting on the front of a saddle with my mom and my brother,” she said. “My brother might be crying and I’m just sitting there with a big smile on my face.”

Horsemanship is a key factor in rodeo queen competition.

“Horsemanship is a really big one because, just like in beauty pageants where they have a talent, horsemanship is our talent,” she said. “It’s what separates us from the normal beauty queen.”

The ability to discuss the history of rodeo and explain the series of events is also required.

“We’re there to not only spread the news about our rodeo but to invite people to come and not only just be a rodeo spectator but to become a true fan.”

Rodeo royalty must be able to answer unexpected questions and be the public face of the rodeo they represent.

“It is because we’re constantly talking to the public and educating them and you never know what questions they’re going to ask you,” she said. “So you always want to know a little bit more than you really need to.”

Kemp makes sure she has enough information to answer questions from all ages and has the ability to transition from talking with children one minute to public leaders the next. She’s happy to share the origin of rodeo events, most of which are simply ranch chores – very difficult ranch chores.

“Saddle bronc is actually the original rodeo event because that’s what they would do to break the horses,” she said.

Two years ago, on the school tour, a girl asked her why she was so sparkly and why she wore so much make-up. She explained that queens wear a lot of make-up so the crowd can see their faces. The rhinestones help locate the rodeo queen in a crowd.

“As a rodeo queen, I am obviously dressed-up to stand out,” she said. “There’s a quote and it’s ‘be the glam in a world full of grit’ and I like to apply that to a rodeo queen.”

Kemp considers the Dixie Roundup her hometown rodeo and gaining the crown was, as one might expect, the fulfillment of a dream. She has many fond memories of visiting the Sunbowl to watch the Roundup with her family.

“The Dixie Roundup is a rodeo where you can go and someone knows your name,” she said. “It’s place where you can see old friends and enjoy a good hot dog and at the same time enjoy the excitement of a rodeo.”


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