A little country flair

Miss Rodeo Nebraska contestant Joeli Walrath speaks to the crowd gathered for the style show Tuesday at the Neville Center in North Platte. The winner will be crowned tonight at Wild West Arena during the Buffalo Bill Rodeo.

One knew there had to be a rodeo twist coming up Tuesday night as the five stunningly dressed Miss Rodeo Nebraska contestants took turns drawing questions for the “If You Could ...” icebreaker game.

It showed up when Hershey’s Brylee Thompson, one of the three Miss Teen Rodeo Nebraska entrants, replied to her question: “If you were a rodeo specialty act, what would your act be and why?”

“I would like to be a rodeo clown who does crazy trick-riding tricks and is constantly getting on and off the horse throughout the show,” Thompson told reigning 2018 teen queen Rebel Sjeklocha.

Her answer wrapped up the competitive portion of the Miss Rodeo Nebraska Style Show, a dazzling fashion showcase for current and aspiring rodeo queens from young girlhood to early adulthood.

The Miss Rodeo Nebraska Association will announce Sjeklocha’s successor as Miss Teen Rodeo Nebraska at 1:30 p.m. today at the North Platte Community Playhouse.

Tonight’s 8 p.m. opening-night audience at the Buffalo Bill Rodeo will meet the 2020 Miss Rodeo Nebraska Lady-in-Waiting during intermission. She’ll take over in January for 2019 queen Eva Oliver, who will compete at Miss Rodeo America in Las Vegas in December.

Oliver’s two immediate predecessors, Kristin Kohmetscher (2018) and Laramie Schlichtemeier (2017), emceed the procession of titleholders from local Nebraska rodeo pageants, reigning state rodeo queens from 10 states and Miss Rodeo America 2019 Taylor McNair of Mississippi.

Also taking part — albeit in decidedly non-Western formal wear — were Miss Nebraska 2019 Allie Swanson, crowned Saturday night in North Platte, and Phoenix Stanford, named Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen 2019 May 11 in Omaha.

For their last chance to impress the pageant’s three judges, the pair competing for Miss Rodeo Nebraska and the trio seeking the teen title appeared separately in their chosen formal-wear outfits while answering their random icebreaker questions.

When asked which famous person she’d want to be for a day, Miss Teen Rodeo Nebraska contestant Amber Gonzales of McCook chose her mother, Courtney Barger.

“Everybody knows who she is, whether you’re on the (Miss Rodeo) Nebraska committee or not or whether you’re a former queen or not,” Gonzales said.

The third teen candidate, North Platte’s Sierra Cain, drew the “What is your major pet peeve?” question. “In my class of 300 at my school, a major pet peeve of mine in my class is when people click pens,” the Adams Middle School student replied.

Miss Rodeo Nebraska contestant Brooklyn Becker of Beaver City, who led off the segment, kept it simple when asked to describe one personal quality she wanted people to know her for.

“I would like people to know I’m a positive person and I give a smile to everyone I meet,” Becker said.

Counterpart Joeli Walrath of Ashton, meanwhile, drew another Western-tinged question: “If you were to write a country-western song about yourself, what would be the title and why?”

“I think I would title it ‘Hard-Workin’,’ and that’s with an apostrophe at the end,” she answered. In her Miss Rodeo Nebraska application, she said, she cited a statement by Wild West Show crack shot Annie Oakley that “sitting still was harder for her than any type of hard work.”

The evening began with a live fundraising auction of a dozen items that brought in $1,640 for the Miss Rodeo Nebraska scholarship program and another $950 for the sponsoring Miss Rodeo Nebraska Association’s activities. North Platte auctioneer John Childers presided over the bidding.

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