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Newly crowned rodeo queen aims to be a role model

Most beauty pageants include judging in categories such as appearance and personality. But before 16-year-old Tessa Neuenschwander could receive her crown, she also had to prove she could ride. Tessa, the daughter of Kara and David Neuenshwander of Kamas, is this year’s Miss Summit County Rodeo Queen, and she has the crown to prove it — one that is made especially to top a Western hat.

The guidelines for the 2010 Miss Summit County Rodeo Contest called for the queen to be a role model for youth in the rodeo community, a girl with a love for horses, a passion for rodeo and high moral standards. To find the girl to represent rodeo in the county, contestants for Rodeo Queen were judged in five categories: personality, speech, appearance, photogenic ability, and horsemanship.

Through the personality category, the judges were looking for maturity, intelligence and a sense of humor. "You are judged during the whole contest," says Neuenschwander, pointing out that the way a girl handles herself throughout the competition, as well as during an interview with the judges, are extremely important.

Neuenschwander gave a speech entitled "Summit County Fair: The Tradition Continues." It took her a day to memorize the speech, and she admits the speech category was her least favorite part of the competition.

The appearance category does not simply involve general attractiveness. It is largely based on "dressing Western," Neuenschwander says, "but you still have to look nice and coordinate."

For photogenic ability, the girls had their pictures taken and judged by photographer Roxanne Ovard.

Horsemanship was Neuenschwander’s favorite part of the contest, and her horse, Lena, did not let her down. She and Lena had to ride through different patterns, while she was judged for her handling of the horse.

Four girls entered this year’s contest. Neuenschwander won the saddle awarded to the rodeo queen, Caitlyn Pentz was named first attendant, Chabree Potter second attendant, and Shaylee Potter was picked as Miss Congeniality. Stormy Henerson, Jim Marsh, Bonnie Sessions and Kayla Sessions judged the girls.

The Rodeo Queen contest was held on June 5, but Neuenschwander’s reign really kicks off with the Fiesta Days in Kamas this weekend and then the Summit County Fair in mid-August. She will represent Summit County at the fair, attending almost all of the events and often handing out ribbons. "What I am really looking forward to," says Neuenschwander, "is the Little Buckaroo Rodeo at the fair, where the little kids compete."

Neuenschwander also started competing in rodeo events as a child — her first rodeo coming at the age of five — and she was Little Buckaroo Royalty two years ago. Her family owns nine horses and Neuenschwander has loved growing up with the horses in her backyard.

With such an emphasis on being a role model, and representing rodeo in Summit County, that comes with the title of Miss Summit County Rodeo Queen, Neuenschwander does not fall short. She is a humble girl who still seems a bit surprised that she won the crown. She cares greatly about her family and her horses, as any aspiring rodeo star should.

With plans to graduate early from South Summit High School, Neuenschwander "would like to go to hair school." She is considering the Paul Mitchell Beauty School in Salt Lake City. Wherever she goes, she will be a reminder of the Western way of life, the history, and the traditions of Summit County.


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