There have been a lot of moments for Laura “Lolly” Cameron Klug to be proud of throughout her life.
The Maxwell woman — originally a native of Aurora — was Miss Rodeo Nebraska, competed for Miss Rodeo America and is the 10th person to be inducted into the MRA Hall of Fame. She will be inducted on Dec. 7 during the 2016 MRA pageant in Las Vegas alongside longtime MRA videographer Tom House.
Klug said she learned about the honor in mid-September, but didn’t want to overshadow the send-off last weekend for Joni Qualm, MRN 2015.
“I was very surprised,” Klug said.
It’s been a long road and a lot of work for the Nebraska woman, from growing up on an Aurora dairy farm to now. There have been many changes to the program in nearly 60 years. Klug said she’s glad that she, unlike girls in today’s Miss Rodeo pageants, didn’t have to give speeches or dance.
“This old farm girl wouldn’t have left Nebraska,” she said, with a smile.
Klug’s first pageant was the Nebraska Dairy Princess pageant in 1957. It was a learning curve for her.
At that time, she had never had been part of a pageant. The interviews, the modeling and speeches were all new to her.
The judges asked her where she would most like to go if she got Dairy Princess America. Klug said she wanted to go to Switzerland, to learn how they made Swiss cheese.
The audience laughed and Klug thought to herself, “I don’t want this.”
But she went on to the top five of the Nebraska Dairy Princess pageant, and later became the second Miss Rodeo Nebraska that same year.
Her biggest moment isn’t about crowns or gowns, though.
It was about being called a “true cowgirl” by an announcer during the grand entry in San Francisco at the 1957 MRA contest. Dallas Hunt George, then-reigning national queen, was riding the horse used for the film “Black Beauty.” George hadn’t checked the cinch on her saddle.
“She went by and said ‘my saddle’s going,’” Klug said.
So she and Kay Green, then Miss Rodeo New Mexico, both on horseback, rode beside George and grabbed a rein, which stopped the galloping horse.
Klug said what keeps her coming back year after year is the girls — the current, former and future queens. She and George, for example, get asked for photographs by younger queens who hope to have as strong a friendship through the years.
“It’s really just like a big family out there,” Klug said.
The entire organization, except for the national executive director and her assistant, is run by volunteers. Klug’s daughter, Johna Klug Niedfelt, was MRN 1984. They’re one of four mother-and-daughter pairs who have competed for the same state in the MRA pageant.