According to the Miss Rodeo America Rules and Regulations book, rodeos have often selected queens-even as far back as the days of the untimed bronc riding-but they seldom got beyond the local or state level, and not until 1955 did they reach a national level of competition.
The Miss Rodeo Mississippi pageant began in 1974, with Tracey Thompson becoming the State’s first Miss Rodeo. Tracey was followed by Margaret Shippee (MRMiss 1975), Nacy Langebartel (MRMiss 1976), Patti Jo Brunson (MRMiss 1977), Sheeri Anne Brunson (MRMiss 1978), Nancy Finane (MRMiss 1980), Mary Jane Hunt (MRMiss 1981), LeAnne Breland (MRMiss 1982), Deedra Burnett (MRMiss 1983), Jodie Alman (MRMiss 1984), Kathy Steverson (MRMiss 1985), Gaye Martin (MRMiss 1986), Ellen Blough (MRMiss 1987), Janet McGee (MRMiss 1988), Karen Hudson (MRMiss 1989), Angela Foshee (MRMiss 1990), Melanie Broome (MRMiss 1992), Misty Royals (MRMiss 1994), and Megan Young (MRMiss 1995).
In 1997, the Miss Rodeo Foundation was formed, and in January of 1998, they crowned their first Miss Rodeo Mississippi. DeShannon Davis, 23, of Meridian, won the title, as well as the horsemanship, speech, and appearance categories. The pageant was held at the Jim Buck Ross Agriculture Museum in Jackson. In 1999, the pageant was relocated to the Hilton Hotel, in Jackson, and Sarah Johnson, 21, of Natchez, was crowned the winner. Sarah won the horsemanship, speech, and appearance portions of the pageant and the following year went on to crown Amy Arinder, 21, of Morton, as the 2000 Miss Rodeo Mississippi. In 2001, the pageant was relocated to the Ramada Inn in Jackson, and Robin Meeks, 22, of Canton, received the top honors that year. For the next two years, the pageant remained at the Ramada Inn in Jackson, with Briana Ratcliff, 21, of Columbia, and Angel Spivey, 21, of Vicksburg, winning their respective years. Briana won the horsemanship and speech portion of the pageant, and Angel swept all the pageant categories in 2003. The 2004 pageant marked the last pageant under the auspices of the Miss Rodeo Foundation, as well as the 30th Anniversary of the Miss Rodeo Mississippi Pageant. Lacie Stockstill, 21, of Mendenhall, won the horsemanship and appearance categories, and the title of Miss Rodeo Mississippi. She was the first Miss Rodeo Mississippi to receive an award at the Miss Rodeo America pageant, as she received the Southeastern Award which entitled her to a $1,000.00 scholarship and third place in the scrapbooking contest where she received an additional $150.00 cash award.
2005 marked a new era for queening in Mississippi, as two former Miss Rodeo Mississippi’s joined together to form the Miss Rodeo Mississippi Association. DeShannon Davis, along with Sarah Johnson Gatwood, began their quest in March to form a pageant committee, as well as find a deserving young woman to represent our State at professional rodeos, and at the 2006 Miss Rodeo America pageant in Las Vegas, Nevada, in December. Cari Keyes, 20, of Vicksburg, was called upon to serve her State as Miss Rodeo Mississippi 2005. She began her reign, May 1, 2005.
On October 1, 2005, Adrienne Borden, 19, of Starkville, captured the Appearance and Photogenic categories, Most Photogenic, as well as the title of Miss Rodeo Mississippi, 2006. Kaci Bishop of Canton won horsemanship and the silent auction award. 2005 also marked the first year for the Miss Rodeo Mississippi Teen, Princess, and Sweetheart divisions. 15 year old, Laura Hankins, from Calhoun City, was crowned the first Miss Rodeo Mississippi Teen, and 10 years old, Sidnie Stephens, from Crystal Springs was crowned the first Miss Rodeo Mississippi Princess. Also, in 2005, the first Miss Rodeo Mississippi Sweethearts were crowned. Tori Burke, Hannah Chisolm, Savannah Gray Davis, Kalin Key, Gracie Newell, Anna Lea Stewart, and Shelby York, won the title. In 2007, the MRM Pageant relocated to Philadelphia, MS, and held their annual pageant in conjunction with the Neshoba County Fair PRCA Rodeo. Cori Keyes, a twin sister to MRM 2005, was crowned the 29th Miss Rodeo Mississippi. She won the Appearance and Personality categories. In 2008, the title of Miss Rodeo Mississippi stayed in the city of Vicksburg, as Laura Leigh Dorman won the crown. Laura Leigh, 20, earned the appearance and horsemanship awards. The 2009 pageant, which was held October 31st—November 1, 2008, in Jackson, MS, was a culmination of hard work and dedication on behalf of one Mississippian. Kelli Jackson, a Wheaton, Illinois College Student, was crowned the 31st Miss Rodeo Mississippi. Kelli, from Eupora, was a former Miss Dixie National, Mississippi High School Rodeo Queen, and National Little Britches Rodeo Queen, prior to winning the title. She won the Appearance, Personality, and Horsemanship portions of the pageant, as well as the Speech award.
The state of Mississippi made history in 2010 when Kelli Jackson was crowned Miss Rodeo America. Jackson was the first Mississippian to win the prestigious title. Kelli won the Personality and Appearance categories, 2nd place in the scrapbook division, as well as a contract for one year with MRAI and a $10,000 educational scholarship. Kelli used her scholarship from MRAI to obtain her Master degree from Mississippi State University. Another first came in 2010, when Mississippi's National Director, DeShannon Davis, was elected to the Miss Rodeo America Executive Board. This elite group oversee the day-to-day operations of the Miss Rodeo America organization, as well as carry out the policies and procedures set forth by the Miss Rodeo America Board of Directors.
Also, in 2010, the Miss Rodeo Mississippi Association acquired the Miss Dixie National, Jr. Miss Dixie National, and Miss Dixie National Sweetheart Pageants, and started the tradition of hosting both the MRM and Dixie pageants, together, in Jackson, MS, each January. Katie Jo Vanderslice, of Pachuta, was crowned Miss Rodeo Mississippi, while Amber Shaufer, of Crossett, Arkansas, and Vanessa Ratliff, of Edwards, won the two Dixie titles for the year. In 2011, Rachael Dee, of Vicksburg, won the title of Miss Rodeo Mississippi, with Dixie National titles going to Alina Bonaequista, of Memphis, TN, and Kaitlyn Nicholson, of Lawrence.
Another success story for the Miss Rodeo Mississippi Association came when Miss Rodeo Mississippi 2012, Samantha Golden, of Lauderdale, placed in the top ten at the 2013 Miss Rodeo America pageant. She and Kelli are the only two Mississippian's to ever place in the Miss Rodeo America pageant. Paige Nicholson, of Lawrence, won the title of Miss Dixie National, while Taylor McNair, of Learned, won the title of Jr. Miss Dixie National. Carmen Smith, of Louisville, was crowned Miss Dixie National Sweetheart.
With careful forethought and consideration by the MRM Board of Directors, 2013 brought about a new era in rodeo queening in the state, as the board voted to change the organization's name to the Miss Rodeo Mississippi Foundation. The foundation was established to preserve and promote the sport of professional rodeo, which stands for family, hard work, values, and commitment, in the state of Mississippi. The foundations' mission is to provide scholarship awards for young Mississippians to maximize their educational potential, develop their public relations skills and public speaking ability while producing ethical, responsible, and hardworking citizens, who desire to be role models and leaders for our state and/or country.
In 2013, Lawerence, Mississippi, native, Paige Nicholson, won the title of Miss Rodeo Mississippi. Paige, worked many years for this crowning moment, and her hard work paid off. She was crowned the 35th Miss Rodeo Mississippi during the Miss Dixie National Pageant in January. Brandi Pittman of Bogalusa, Louisiana, and Mary Elizabeth Sprabery, of Meridian, won the Dixie National titles that same year.
2014 was another BRIGHT year in MRM History. Mississippian, Paige Nicholson, claimed the title of Miss Rodeo America; bringing the title back across “The River” for the second time in four years. Nicholson, a graduate of Mississippi State University, grew up on a dairy farm and competed in a multitude of 4-H contests, showing cattle. Six years ago she entered her first queen pageant at the high school rodeo level. Her titles include the 2007 Mississippi High School Rodeo Queen, 2009 Miss Teen Rodeo Mississippi (Jackson’s teen queen during her reign as Miss Rodeo Mississippi 2009) and 2012 Miss Dixie National. Paige won the Horsemanship and Personality portions of the Miss Rodeo America Pageant. Although Mississippi was unable to send a 2014 representative to the National pageant, the Dixie National queens did a tremendous job representing professional rodeo and the Tri-State Rodeo Association throughout the year. Taylor McNair, reigned as Miss Dixie National, while Summer Weldon, of Martin, Tennessee, won the Jr. Miss Dixie National title.
For the first time since 1974, Mississippi crowned her first Summit, MS, native. Laura Sumrall, the 22-year-old daughter of Hiram and Dr. Dawn Sumrall of Summit, and a graduate of Texas A&M did an excellent job representing our state throughout her reign and at the Miss Rodeo America pageant. In conjunction with the 50th Anniversary Dixie National Livestock Show and Rodeo, Summer Weldon, from Martin, TN, and Gracie Newell, of Meridian, proudly represented one of the greatest rodeos in our country during the week of February 12-18, 2015.
Despite not having a Miss Rodeo Mississippi in 2016, the MRM Foundation Board, under the guidance of new National Director, Allison Coulton, had two talented Miss Dixie queens that promoted rodeo throughout our state. Mary Ashley Rohrscheib, from Cullman, Alabama, and student at Wallace State Community College, held the title as the 51st Miss Dixie National. Joining Ashley for the week-long duties, was Brookhaven native, Makenzie Richardson, as Jr. Miss Dixie National. The MRM Foundation Board elected Laura Sumerall Muntean and Laura Hankins Priscock to a four-year term, replacing Cathy Brown and DeShannon Davis. Sadly, tragedy struck our MRM family, as we lost one of our precious Rodeo Sweethearts, twelve-year-old, Carmen Elizabeth Smith. Her legacy and love for all things rodeo queen related will live on as each year a memorial award will be presented to a deserving contest in the Dixie National pageant in Carmen's name. Be Kind...Help a Strange...Have a Godly Attitude -- Carmen Smith
Emma Jumper, from Starkville, Mississippi, is the 37th young lady to have the distinct honor and privilege of wearing the crown of Miss Rodeo Mississippi. Makenzie Richardson won the title of Miss Dixie National, while cowgirl Alex Bierman carried the title of Junior Miss Dixie National. Alex, along with former queen Liz Sprabery, are the only two 11-year olds to ever win the coveted title of Jr. Miss Dixie National.
2018 brought a familiar face back to the Miss Rodeo Foundation, as Taylor McNair was crowned the 38th Miss Rodeo Mississippi. Taylor, who was a previous Miss Dixie National, will represent Mississippi at all Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association (PRCA) events statewide and several abroad, for a period of one year, as well as compete for the title of Miss Rodeo America, in Las Vegas, Nevada, December 2018. Sabrina Turner won the title of Miss Dixie National, while Kaitlyn Holland was crowned Jr. Miss Dixie National. Cara Beth Calhoun will reign in 2018 as Miss Dixie National Princess.