Rachael Dee of Vicksburg named 2011 queen

Published 12:30 am Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Vicksburg college student has been crowned the 2011 Miss Rodeo Mississippi.

“I’ve been riding all my life,” said Rachael Dee, 22, a senior at Mississippi State University. “I’ve been going to pageants for the past four or five years.”

Dee won the statewide competition at the Mississippi State Fairgrounds on New Year’s Day. She was one of two competitors in the pageant.

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Majoring in elementary education, Dee, who was homeschooled, said she comes from a family of barrel riders and has been competing in rodeos since she was 4.

The foster daughter of Carl and Lela Flowers of Vicksburg, Dee rides regularly with their daughters, Stephanie, 13, and Laura, 9.

When she is training for competition, her closest companion is an 11-year-old gelding named Mucho’s Connection, or “Baby Boy” to his friends.

“One of my favorite things about horses,” Dee said, “is it does not matter if I’m barrel racing, competing or trail riding, when I get on a horse all my worries just disappear.”

The pageants come naturally.

“We always went to the Dixie National, and I would see the girls run in on their horses,” she said. “And I would sit in the stands and think, ‘I want to be that girl one day.’”

Dee, a lifelong Warren County resident, was judged on horsemanship, interviews, written tests, impromptu speeches and rodeo performances.

When riding in the competition, the horse was not hers, but one picked randomly by the contest’s organization.

With her new crown, Dee will head out to appearances across the state for the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association in Mississippi and also to such state rodeos as the National Western Rodeo in Denver.

In early December, Dee will head to the Miss Rodeo America competition in Las Vegas. There, she will compete with women from every state for the national title. If she wins that, she will make appearances across the country at rodeos, schools and other media events.

And after her reign?

“I want to continue to do rodeos,” Dee said, “Really my biggest dream is to qualify for the National Finals Rodeo in barrel racing. I hope to fill the shoes of Sherry Cervi, this year’s barrel racing champion.”

She said she is eagerly looking forward to the traveling her crown brings with it.

“One of my favorite things to do is to travel, not only locally, but nationally and just promote rodeo,” she said.

Miss Rodeo America 2010 is a young woman from Mississippi, Kelli Jackson of Eupora, says the organization’s website.