Hiwassee College Student Crowned Miss Rodeo Tennessee 2016

February 15, 2016 – Kelsey Hawkins, 20-year-old equine science student at Hiwassee College in Madisonville, TN, has been crowned Miss Rodeo Tennessee 2016. She will spend a year promoting professional rodeo and will represent Tennessee in the Miss Rodeo America Pageant, a prelude to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas in December.

To become Miss Rodeo Tennessee, contestants compete in a pageant that includes judging in horsemanship, personality, and appearance. They undergo personal interviews on current event and rodeo topics, impromptu speaking, modeling, testing on equine and rodeo knowledge, and two rounds of horsemanship judging that includes a pattern performed individually and rail work in a group of riders.

As Miss Rodeo Tennessee, Hawkins will serve as a promotional ambassador for the sport by appearing at rodeos, speaking to media outlets, visiting schools and hospitals, interacting with sponsors, assisting at fundraisers, carrying the American flag and sponsor flags during the rodeo, participating in kids events, and educating the public about rodeo and western heritage.

 “I’m super excited to get my year started as Miss Rodeo Tennessee,” said Hawkins after receiving her crown during a professional rodeo in Memphis, TN, on Dec. 30, 2015. “I feel very blessed to have this opportunity.”

In December, Hawkins traveled to Las Vegas for the Miss Rodeo America Pageant to observe and support 2015 Miss Rodeo Tennessee Alina Bonacquista of Maryville, TN.  There she was able to meet other 2016 state titleholders and get some insight into her service opportunities for the year.

For competing in the Miss Rodeo America Pageant, every state titleholder is guaranteed a minimum $1,000 scholarship. For finishing as a top 10 finalist, the scholarship award is $1,500. And the amount increases for the top five finalists and the overall winner receives a $25,000 scholarship, along with a myriad of prizes. There are multiple individual scholarship awards available as well through the Miss Rodeo America Scholarship Foundation.

 “Miss Rodeo Tennessee operates totally on sponsorships, advertising and donations from companies and individuals,” said Sue Lynn Perry, national director for the Miss Rodeo Tennessee Association. “All the money raised this year go to fund Kelsey’s service as Miss Rodeo Tennessee, which includes travel expenses, educational opportunities, wardrobe and gear, national pageant expenses and promotional material costs.”

Hawkins has set up a GoFundMe account for friends and family to donate directly to her expense fund. Additionally she will host a fundraising event in her hometown, Madisonville, TN. Corporate sponsorships can be arranged through the Miss Rodeo Tennessee Association, a Tennessee not-for-profit corporation.

Hawkins hopes to parlay her experience as Miss Rodeo Tennessee and her education into a successful career in the equine industry.

For more information about Miss Rodeo Tennessee, follow on Facebook or email rodeotenn@aol.com.
(Photo by Kevin DeBusk)

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