Owensboro resident Carsyn Cecil was named the 2023 Junior Miss Rodeo Kentucky in November, but she was officially crowned Saturday with a coronation at White Chateau on Cecil Farms.
Cecil, 13, is an eighth-grader at Owensboro Innovation Middle School and had never competed in a statewide pageant before this one.
“I had high hopes that I was going to (win), but I also had a little bit of me that didn’t think I was going to,” she said. “I was pretty confident about it.”
Along with being crowned junior miss, Cecil received awards for high program ad sales, rising star, Miss Congeniality and Miss Photogenic.
Meeting the other winners and contestants, along with previous titleholders, has been her favorite part about the pageant win so far.
“They’ve really taught me a lot,” she said. “It’s my first time doing this, and they’ve taught me everything I know about it now.”
Cecil’s goal for this year is to read to students at every elementary school in Owensboro and Daviess County, along with lots of travel plans.
“I’m going to be going around Kentucky and a little bit of Indiana and Tennessee to ride in some rodeos and go to schools to talk to kids,” she said.
Cecil’s platform is centered around educating students about agriculture and rodeo life.
Jaclyn Graves, Cecil’s mother, said Saturday’s coronation was a kick-off to the rest of Cecil’s year as the titleholder.
“It is also a fundraiser for her expenses,” Graves said. “She’ll travel all across Kentucky, throughout Indiana, Illinois and Tennessee for sure during this year. This just helps for her friends and family come out and celebrate her as she is officially crowned.”
Graves said Cecil has loved horses since she was a toddler, and the pageant was a combination of two things she enjoys doing.
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“She has been riding in rodeos for about two years, and last year she mentioned wanting to do the pageant,” Graves said. “She had competed in our Daviess County Lion’s Club Fair pageant once or twice and loved it.”
The pageant, held during the North American Livestock Expo at the Kentucky State Fair, was a three-day event where the contestants are judged on appearance, knowledge and horsemanship.
“The knowledge category has a written test where they have to know the rulebooks and other aspects of professional rodeo,” Graves said. “She had to give a speech, and there was a written test on equine knowledge.”
Graves said the contestants had to know how to ride a horse well and ride in a certain pattern while being judged on how well the pattern is executed.
“It really is a combination of beauty, brains and skills,” she said. “She was just thrilled to be able to take home the title this year.”
Watching her daughter participate and win the title has been something Graves has enjoyed seeing.
“I love that it puts her out there,” Graves said. “Her confidence has built so much in this, and she’s able to get in front of people and talk and communicate. Knowing that she’s going to be able to represent the world of professional rodeo throughout this year, as an eighth-grader, who has that kind of opportunity?”
Megan Coady, vice president of Miss Rodeo Kentucky, was not present at the pageant because of her pregnancy, but said the judges were looking for someone who was involved, presented herself well, intelligence, beauty and maturity.
“I think Carsyn represents that,” Coady said. “She presents herself very well, and she’s a beautiful young woman, inside and out. That’s what we’re looking for to represent Kentucky.”
According to the Miss Rodeo Kentucky website, each titleholder will serve as an official ambassador who will promote the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, the state’s agricultural industry and the Western way of life.
“A primary outcome is to provide educational and career-building opportunities to these young women, who compete in the pageant, and to foster the growth and development of young women to be professional leaders of tomorrow,” the website states.
After completing her secondary education, Cecil would like to attend Murray State University and compete on the rodeo team.