On The Rodeo Trail With Miss Rodeo America 2019 Taylor McNair

From the time the first Miss Rodeo America was crowned in 1955, Miss Rodeo America has held a tremendously important role in the world of rodeo. She serves as the official ambassador to the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and spends the year traveling the country, participating in rodeos, and teaching the community about the sport she proudly represents. Miss Rodeo America 2019, Taylor McNair, will travel roughly 100,000 miles and participate in nearly 100 rodeos throughout the year. We were honored to spend the day with Taylor and learn more about her incredible journey wearing the coveted crown.

How has being crowned Miss Rodeo America 2019 impacted you? “Being Miss Rodeo America is the single most amazing thing that has ever happened to me up until this point in my life for sure. Just being able to travel; what 23 year old can say that they’ve seen so much country and that they’ve not only got to see so many large rodeos but have been able to be a part of them and play a role in them. It’s truly incredible and a cowgirl’s dream. I’ve always wanted to be a professional barrel racer and I still want to be, and it’s so cool to interact with the women on a professional level and see the ground conditions and learn about the rodeo committees. And maybe one day I’ll come back as a rodeo competitor.”

What is it like traveling the country and teaching people about the sport of rodeo? “It’s a lot of fun going into schools and educating the next generation. You know, we could see them wearing a gold buckle of a world champion here in the next few years simply because I walked into their classroom and I explained the rodeo events and they begged their parents to take them to a rodeo. A really cool part of my job is getting to interact with those young kids. And maybe encourage some girls to trade in those ballerina tutus for a new pair of boots.”

What is it like being a role model for young girls and women who admire you? “Oh it’s huge pressure, huge pressure. But I try to live my life in a way that I would want my [future] daughter or kids to live. So every day just embracing who I am and keeping positive. I just try to portray what I want to see the world be like. And just live out my life through that. And hopefully I’m doing an OK job. But taking that time to meet with others is super important because girls before me, my role models, took the time to talk to me and left a lasting impact [on my life]. So making sure I take that time to spend with girls and be an encouragement to them is the biggest and probably the most impressionable part of being a role model.”

What is your main message you want to communicate to all the girls and women who admire you? “To first and foremost be yourself in everything that you do. I firmly believe that God created us each unique and He gifted us with different talents and skills for a reason. A lot of girls rodeo queening for instance or even beauty pageants will wonder why they crown a different girl every year. And that’s because there is no perfect mold. There is no perfect candidate that has to follow these guidelines. We each bring something unique and different to the table and that’s what makes it so fun to see the different girls and how will they use, for instance, the Miss Rodeo America title to better our sport, to better our industry. And so my main message is for girls to embrace who they are and be who they are. Don’t be scared to do what you want, do what you love. And embrace your individuality and have confidence knowing who you are and what you want.”

Do you do anything specific on the road to convey that message? “I signed thousands and thousands of autograph sheets this year. And on each one of them I write ‘believe you can and you’re halfway there.’ Growing up, I never believed in myself. I never believed in my abilities. I never believed in who I was. I always second guessed everything I did. Being Miss Rodeo America and being Miss Rodeo Mississippi, it taught me that you don’t have time to second guess yourself. You’ve got to move on your instinct, and you’ve got to know what’s right from what’s wrong. And so, through this year I’ve gained confidence in who I am by making those quick and knowledgeable decisions. Once you believe in yourself, you’re going to see so many doors open for you because you show that confidence. People can’t believe in you unless you believe in yourself. I hope that I can be that encouragement for others to believe in themselves because I wish that I would have believed in myself a lot sooner.”

Can you describe the sisterhood within the rodeo queen community? “Being with the sisterhood of girls, state queens last year and state queens this year, we’re all likeminded. It’s so amazing to be a part of such an elite group of women that have the same moral standards and values and are interested in the same things. The sisterhood is like none other and is still a huge part of my life from last year. There are about three girls from my last year that I talk to every single day. And I talk to pretty much all 29 of the girls that I traveled with last year on a weekly or monthly basis. I was in a sorority, I was a cheerleader, and so I’ve bonded with a lot of groups of women but there is simply none like the bond of the sisterhood of being a rodeo queen.”

Why is Miss Rodeo America important in the western community? “Miss Rodeo America is so important not just in the western community [but in general]. Growing up, I always saw Miss Rodeo America as a role model in my life. In this world, too many girls look up to maybe not the best role models so I’ve always tried to set the bar high not only in the rodeo world but in just sharing kindness and gratitude. And Miss Rodeo America is an important role for rodeo because she is approachable. I’m able to stay there throughout the duration of the rodeo, get there early, stay late, and so I’m able to reach a larger crowd of people than maybe the contestants would be able to. It’s a great job being able to be that liaison and explain what we do in the rodeo arena to those who are watching and hopefully turn spectators into true fans.”

What tips and tricks have you learned living on the road? “I’m really lucky that I don’t have to schedule my flights, but the thing that’s the hardest is keeping those bags under fifty pounds. I’m definitely an original type of rodeo queen and I love the heavy beaded clothing and nice embroidery so my bags are very, very tough to pack. So I always take a steamer. The steamer’s great for retouching any hats that you need to re-shape after travel along with steaming out your clothes. There’s a great wrinkle release spray that also works wonders. Those two things are essential. And also a ball cap. I like to keep a ball cap with me on the plane so that if I do want to take a little nap I can take my hat off and slip the cap on for a quick snooze.”

What are your favorite western fashion trends? “The western industry is definitely taking things off the runway and putting our cool western flair and style on it. It’s really cool to see what other girls are wearing because at rodeos it’s kind of like a fashion show now because everyone has their own trends. So I’m picking up different things that I like from others but still staying true to that classic Miss Rodeo America look that I grew up adoring on the women who came before me. I really like leather but the part that I’m really, really digging right now is the raw edges. So you’ll see like a smooth lamb skin leather, I like the backside of it. So it’s more of the rough out part. I like to wear clothes that haven’t been I guess per say finished, so they’re just raw edges and it looks really, really natural.”

How long and how hard did you have to work to become crowned Miss Rodeo America? “Very hard. I think too often girls don’t explain just how hard we work for becoming a rodeo queen and how hard our job is as a rodeo queen. But it took a lot of preparation. For starters, I spent a lot of time last year with a horse trainer. He had a bunk house and when I wasn’t on the road I would actually live at his place and from 7:00am to 7:00pm, I was riding horses. Not only was I riding horses, I was learning from him as he is an AQHA professional so he knows all things about horses. I also contacted resources and I studied every moment I got. It’s so important to be educated on who you’re representing. So I read the rulebook that the PRCA has as well as their media guide, the WPRA rulebook, the AQHA rulebook; just trying to get my hands on anything I could because I knew essentially this would be part of the job I was applying for. Extemporaneous speaking was another part I prepared for. My sister would give me a topic every night before bed, anything from windows to frogs to current events, and I would have to prepare a speech and deliver it to her and my dad. And you may think it’s intimidating delivering a speech in front of thousands of people but I beg to differ. I think it’s harder to give a speech in front of your dad and your sister than anybody else. And then of course wardrobe. I wanted to make sure that everything I wore at the Miss Rodeo America pageant was a direct reflection of me, my style, along with current trends that we see in the western industry today. It was so many little details that went into preparing but luckily I have a great village that supports me and made sure that I was prepared in every aspect that I could be. It was something that I did not accomplish on my own. I literally could write a book on preparation because it takes many, many years and I believe that preparation started when I was probably 16 when I first started rodeo queening.”

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