We planned a rodeo queen contest and no one entered!

This is a dilemma that is facing many coordinators today.

As I have talked to many rodeo queen coordinators recently I have heard the same story from many of them all across the country.  A major problem many of them are facing is finding enough contestants to participate in their contests.  This is every coordinator’s nightmare - to plan a contest and have no one come!  It hardly seems worth all of the time, effort and money it takes to put on a contest and then only have one or two girls compete.

Rodeo Queens at a ContestCredit: jmwilding

What’s wrong? Why are we not getting the participants?  Here a few things that might be affecting the number of contestants for your contest.

Factors that can negatively affect the number of contestants you have:   

  • School Attendance - It’s hard to justify missing school days and risking grade cuts and many contests can take several days during the week!
  • Too early in the year - Early spring is a challenge because the horses’ are haired up, the girls haven’t been riding, and they just aren’t in the mind set for competition.
  • Too late in the year - School has started and they start participating in other sports, cheering, and school clubs.  If the contestant’s are older they are going away to college and can't take the time off.
  • Cost of the competition - Queening is expensive and the entry and sponsor fee’s can sometimes be a factor.  Are the clothing requirements just too much?  The price of fuel is getting so high that it also puts a burden on many families to haul not only to the competition but to the required appearances after winning the title.
  • Getting the word out - There's not enough advertisement for your contest.  No one even knows about it!
  • Girls afraid of the competition - Many girls don’t like competing when the competition is tough.  They don’t realize that the tougher the competition the better they become.  Besides, everyone needs to realize that the best of the best can have a bad day!
  • Reining pattern to difficult - Many girls do not have a reining horse and when they see a full reining pattern they feel that they can’t compete.  Maybe consider working calves instead of having such a difficult pattern.  Change to a simple reining pattern and then offer a free-style competition as a second g0. 
  • Reputation of the contest - Protect your contest by having good judges, have an independent accountant tally the scores and double check the scoresheets for mistakes or blanks, don’t let gossip or backbiting take over, and run it to the best of your ability so that your integrity is never in question.  Be careful of favoritism with the contestants by loaning your horse, writing speeches, coaching independently, etc         

 Factors that are positive:

  • Schedule the contest during the summer when school is out - This is pretty self explanatory.  When you aren’t conflicting with school requirements you will have more contestants able to compete.
  • Well organized - Make sure that your paperwork in order, start on time, have a clear schedule for all events, and make sure that everything is lined up ahead of time.  Contestants and parents like to know what to expect and having a well-organized coordinator is a real plus for them.
  • Well advertised - Put flyers in local stores, send applications out to potential contestants, write newspaper articles, list your contest on internet websites, send mass emails to interested rodeo queen people, start a Facebook group and event, and list it in rodeo queen newsletters.
  • Clinic to prepare contestants - Have a clinic for all of your potential contestants.  They will appreciate your efforts.  It is always a better experience for them if they are prepared in advance and having a good experience is what we want for all participants.
  • Plenty of gifts and awards - Make everyone feel like their efforts were worth it!  Make sure everyone goes home with something nice regardless of how they placed.
  • Reputation of the contest - This can be the best drawing card for your contest.  If you have the reputation of running a fair, non-political contest that provides a rewarding and fun experience for the girls they can’t wait to come back the next year, and they spread the word and invite their friends!           

In most areas, the number of contestants for the Princess and Junior Queens tend to be plentiful.  It’s the Senior Queen division that seems to be hurting.  The girls start to move on with their lives and the level of competition is so much higher that many girls don’t want to devote the time and money that it takes to compete.  Don’t get discouraged.  We just need to make their rodeo queening experience so wonderful that they just can’t resist doing it!