‘Lady in Waiting’ Kendra Peterson to be crowned Miss Rodeo S.D.

Farm Forum

Sisseton High School graduate Kendra Peterson was chosen as South Dakota’s Miss Rodeo 2015 in July of 2014 at Belle Fourche, and for the last five months has held the title of “Lady in Waiting.”

This concept has given Kendra some experience under the current Miss Rodeo South Dakota 2014 Queen, Melynda Sletten, until Sletten officially relinquishes her title to Kendra on Jan. 3.

Peterson, along with winning the Miss Rodeo title, was also awarded the photogenic, appearance, speech and the horsemanship division at the annual pageant.

Kendra is a 2013 graduate of the University of Minnesota at Crookston, where she earned her degree in accounting with a minor in agricultural business.

She has been working at South Dakota Wheat Growers in Huron, but will be leaving the company Jan. 1 to take over as Miss Rodeo South Dakota.

She is employed as a bookkeeper and runs the scales where she weighs and grades the grain.

“Working with farmers teaches you patience; some days are very rewarding.”

She especially enjoys making contacts with the local farmers. She plans to see how the next year of her life goes, but she’d like to pursue a career in grain originating where she would buy grain, merchandise it and see it to ethanol plants and other interested parties.

Attaining the title of Miss Rodeo S.D. is not as easy as some may think.

A contestant has to be a top-quality rider, have a vast knowledge of rodeo rules, and know the top riders and rough stock. In addition to being a walking rodeo encyclopedia, Kendra will have to be a top-notch public speaker and represent not only rodeo, but also South Dakota’s rural lifestyle, throughout her reign.

Kendra has picked up some valuable tips and great experience from Sletten. She will put that to use as she supports Sletten while she competes in the Miss Rodeo America competition held in conjunction with the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo going on now in Las Vegas.

Peterson will begin her reign on Jan. 3 at her official Coronation Celebration. She will make public appearances at rodeos, fairs, conventions and schools and will log approximately 50,000 miles and cover 15 states.

As Miss Rodeo S.D., Kendra will be solely responsible for financing her travels.

“It throws you into the real world. You have to have your ducks in a row and be organized,” said Peterson.

In order to subsidize her expenses, she is holding her coronation on Saturday, Jan. 3, at the Nelson Community Center in Peever. The evening will begin with a social hour and silent auction at 5 p.m., supper at 6 p.m., followed by the coronation, live auction and dance.

Anyone interested in a donation may send it to any Dacotah Bank branch office c/o Miss Rodeo SD 2015 Kendra Peterson.

Contestants are strongly encouraged to promote their sponsors throughout the year and she is already a Wrangler cowgirl so that hasn’t been a problem.

Other major sponsors are Bailey, Montana Silversmith and Justin Boots. Kendra will then go on to compete in December 2015 for the Miss Rodeo America pageant and will have a year of travel and expenses to cover.

Peterson will have a full schedule of appearances which will take her to Denver and the Black Hills in January, San Antonio in February, Guthrie, Okla., as well as Fargo and Kissimee, Fla., in March, just to name a few.

She said she has had some fun and memorable events so far since gaining her title. “The friendships that you make are great – we all have the understanding that you win some and lose some. The opinions of the judges can vary on any given day, and you have to be on your game and be prepared for anything.”

Kendra is proud to bring the title “home” to northeast South Dakota, where the last four S.D. Rodeo Queens have been from Roberts, Day and Marshall counties.

She has received some advantageous advice from Miss Rodeo S.D. 2012, Sisseton’s Courtney Peterson, who has often been assumed to be a relative of Kendra’s. In fact, they are not related, although they are neighbors and friends. “Courtney has been good to me and she knows where I’m coming from. She is the sister I never had and she gives me pointers and advice.”

Throughout the year, Kendra’s average day has her up and on the road by 8 a.m. and sometimes not getting home until 10 p.m. to grab a bite to eat and get to bed. She is literally hauling a closet on wheels and talks of the fun the girls have swapping clothes amongst each other.

She has learned quickly how to deal with pressure that comes with the title. “You have to deal with it, and you have to have someone to vent to. It will be okay.”

Kendra knows she can vent to Cindy Wilk, the national director, and, of course, her parents. If she can’t reach Mom, Dad then gets to lend his ear. She gets her rant done and then she moves on.

Her biggest surprise has been the amount of attention that people pay to the rodeo queens. She enjoys the fact that people recognize her and want her picture and autograph. Kendra has had the honor of meeting and making friendships with some well-known rodeo favorites.

Kendra didn’t have her heart set on being a rodeo queen in the beginning. As she was sending in her high school rodeo entry during her junior year in high school, she knew it was her last year to compete.

She was going to do it just to say she had done it. She went to Winner and competed in the High School Regionals and she did okay on her interview and horsemanship areas, but her speech was a train wreck, she said.

Her mom encouraged her to stop competing and just ride horse. But she was encouraged to compete in the 4H Rodeo and she did. This then led her to the Glacial Lakes 4H Rodeo, where she won her first title.

“At that point, you push yourself to see how good you can get and if you don’t do it (compete for a title), you don’t understand it.”

She went on to compete in Aberdeen due to the urging from previous rodeo queens and won that title. Kendra continued her run at the Dakota Stampede where she had to carry a huge flag on her horse. You always have to keep the flag straight and be strong enough to control the flag. There is another unwritten rule in the rodeo queen world that if your hat hits the ground, your head better be in it.

The rodeo life is one that Kendra has grown up with since she was young. She enjoys the rodeo lifestyle where, “You respect other people’s property and everyone is everyone’s cheerleader. Rodeo offers a different level of sportsmanship.”

Kendra said she is proud that at most rodeos, a prayer is said and the National Anthem in played or sung.

Her family support has remained very strong, and this year will be no different.

With her family’s support and her Mom’s advice, “Life is short…don’t sweat the small stuff,” this young cowgirl will continue to set the arena on fire.

Kendra is the daughter of Ron and Mila Peterson of Sisseton.