Many may not know that “royalty” walks the cobbled pathways of Creighton’s mall Arts & Sciences senior Kara Telfer was recently crowned Miss Iowa Rodeo. The biology major came out the victor in a four-day competition in Fort Madison, Iowa at the Tri-State Rodeo competition. This isn’t Telfer’s first state title. She was Miss United Rodeo Association in 2009 and has reached up to first runner up in the Miss Teen Rodeo Iowa pageant.
Although animals on her family’s farm in Underwood, Iowa surrounded her already, her elder sister was the person that sparked her interest in rodeo and horses.
“We got horses when I was 5 or 6… I went along to her pageants since I was 13,” Telfer said. “I watched her and helped take care of her horse. She grew out of it, and then I got into it.”
Not yet officially Miss Rodeo Iowa until Jan. 1, 2013, Telfer has the title of “Lady in Waiting” for now. She will not compete for the Miss Rodeo America until December 2013, at which time she will have already graduated from Creighton. Her official duties until then are centered on “promoting Iowa’s rich western heritage and proud agricultural roots.”
With her responsibilities at school and her studies, she must juggle her job of traveling around the state of Iowa and the United States in order to promote professional rodeo. Her plans for the future include pursuing her dreams of interacting with animals everyday by studying veterinary science.
She has been working towards her goals through her work at the Ralston Veterinary Clinic and her position as secretary in Creighton’s Pre-Vet Club. As a freshman, Telfer ran cross-country and clarified that she gave up the sport in order to focus on her studies, rodeo and other activities.
Telfer explained that competing in rodeo queen competitions requires a different set of skills than one might think.
“It’s nothing like a beauty pageant,” Telfer said.
Contestants are judged in three main areas: appearance, horsemanship and personality. Adequate rodeo knowledge, consciousness about current events, an understanding of equine science, impromptu speaking, individual interviews and a written test are required of all participants. Contestants show the judges their talent at knowing how to ride their own horse and ride the horse of another contestant, which they choose through a draw.
Similar to many beauty contests, dresses are modeled, but in the case of the rodeo, the girls show off a leather dress made of lambskin.
“There will be people that help me out with speech and modeling,” Telfer said. “Those are my two worst events.”
These individuals work behind the scenes to ensure Miss Rodeo Iowa’s success. Past winner Rachel Burton, former Miss Teen Rodeo Iowa and a candidate for this year’s Miss Rodeo America in Las Vegas, has imparted bits of advice from her experience as the titleholder to Telfer.
“She told me to not feel too obligated to go to everything,” Telfer said. “Worry about school first.”
Kimber Dall serves as Telfer’s national director.Her position involves “managing Kara for the next year and helping to coordinate her travels, fundraising efforts and preparing her for the national competition.”
“To be a rodeo queen you have to be multifaceted … We make upwards of 2000 flashcards that Kara must know,” Dall said.
“It’s also important that the public is aware of the misconceptions about the animal welfare side of rodeo. There are regulations that we follow to ensure the safety of the horses … To educate the public is part of Kara’s job. I’m excited to work with Kara. She’s extremely intelligent, an experienced horsewoman and well knowledgeable in horse science. It’s been a pleasure to work with her,” Dall said.
Her prize for her first place position includes being sponsored to get a new, personally customized buckle, chaps and a saddle. At the end of the year, she will also receive a scholarship. The Tri-State Rodeo, held in the C.E. Richards arena, has been voted and preserved the title as best rodeo in the PRCA Great Lake Circuit since 1948. This year, the competition at which Telfer competed took place on Sept. 5-8. Thousands flock to the town for a week of entertainment, competitions and various events.
Not all 50 states send a representative to Miss Rodeo America to take part in the competition. Most candidates come from the western states, where “even Hawaii is represented.”
Telfer spoke about the importance of spreading awareness of Iowa’s rich western heritage and professional rodeo in general.
“It’s a huge part of our history,” Telfer said. “Even though we might not [interact] with horses and other animals in the same way, it’s a way to preserve those skills … it’s a lifestyle. Growing up with horses taught me a lot about hard work and responsibility … you have to take care of and build that relationship with your horse of trust and respect. It instills a lot of good values in people … a lot of life lessons. It’s also just a lot of fun.”