By Kayla Garner, Staff Reporter
Each year the West Texas Fair and Rodeo hosts the WTF&R Queen Scholarship Pageant.
This pageant is a five-day contest that begins on the first Friday of the WTF&R and ends with the crowning of Miss West Texas Fair & Rodeo Queen on Tuesday. The events of the pageant include a horsemanship competition, the WTF&R parade, contestant speeches and interviews and the model and style show dinner.
According to Emma Dantzler, runner up in this year’s WTF&R Queen Scholarship Pageant, the contestants of the pageant are judged on five different categories including congeniality, appearance, speech, horsemanship and personality. The three categories used for scoring points in the pageant are horsemanship, appearance and personality.
These three categories are scored by three volunteer judges, and the contestant with the most points at the end of the pageant wins. The other two categories are not officially scored for points by the judges. The winner of the congeniality portion of the pageant is determined by the votes of the contestants, and the category of speech is considered part of the overall personality score.
Melissa Milliorn, professor of social work and head of the department of social work and WTF&R Queen Scholarship Pageant committee member, shared what the qualifications are to enter the competition.
“Contestants must be 16 to 25 years old, cannot be or ever have been married, had an annulment or had a child. They must be a legal resident of Texas for a least six months, and must either own property, go to school or live within 250 miles of Abilene,” Milliorn explained.
Contestants who do well in the pageant are richly rewarded. “A $2,000 scholarship is awarded to the winning contestant … [which] is to be used for higher education expenses,” Milliorn said.
The scholarship is not the only award given out. “Many gifts are awarded to the contestants as they win the various categories of the competition, with special prizes going to the newly crowned WTF&R Queen,” Milliorn said.
Along with the prizes won, the WTF&R Queen is allowed to enter the state level pageant called Miss Rodeo Texas. If the contestant wins the Miss Rodeo Texas competition, they are able to move on to the national competition.
The pageant is not just about winning though. This competition is a great way for contestants to build important career skills. “The pageant helps the young ladies in the competition with writing, public speaking, answering question and personal presentation and interviews,” Milliorn said.
Emma Dantzler also sees the value of the WTF&R and its contribution to career skills. “The pageant taught me how to memorize a three-minute speech and deliver it accurately with inflection. In fact, not only did I nail my speech, but I won this category. It was a growing experience for sure,” Dantzler said.
The pageant provides a great opportunity for young ladies who love rodeo life, friendly competition and West Texas culture.