Crossett’s own Lana Carter is the first cowgirl to take home the Miss Teen Rodeo USA queen title.
Carter, whose reign as Miss Teen Crossettt PRCA Rodeo ended in May, claimed the national crown after she competed at the International Finals Youth Rodeo (IFYR) in Shawnee, Okla., on July 13 to 16.
The Miss Rodeo USA Association represents the International Professional Rodeo Association, and this year was the first time the organization hosted a teen pageant, making Carter the inaugural queen.
“I still can’t wrap my head around it,” Carter said. “Miss Teen Rodeo USA is the highest title you can get. I was just in shock, really. I put in the work and had so many people supporting me, and it is just surreal.”
The competition at the IFYR was tough, with more than 1,000 students competing in the various events. What made this competition for queen tougher was the depth of competition.
“We have chosen to allow young ladies to participate in the competition, regardless of whether or not they hold a current state or local title,” said Miss Rodeo USA Association Chairman Beth Weldon. “This reasoning aligns with that of world champion competitions, which aren’t limited to individuals that hold local or state level championship buckles.”
While the pageant itself didn’t begin until July 13, Carter’s week at the rodeo began July 11 with orientation.
“We met all the girls and pageant directors, and then we went into onstage interviews and went over everything about our platform,” Carter said. “Later that afternoon we went into personal interviews and written tests.”
Tuesday, July 13, saw rodeo performances in the morning, then horsemanship competitions followed. Every competitor had to perform twice. After that, finalists were chosen and Carter made it. The finals were Friday night.
As things were winding down, even before she was crowned Carter felt like the chance for the win was there.
“I really had a good feeling that I really had a good chance, but I wasn’t for sure,” she said.
“There were a lot of great, great rodeo queens competing in this pageant, and it was a tough competition for sure.”
One of the things that helped her over the top was Carter’s speech, which is about Crossett and how every year it becomes a rodeo town.
“My speech was my hometown,” she said. “I really enjoyed giving that.”
When she rolled back into town at 3 a.m. Monday morning along with her family, Carter knew that her hometown was also with her. Signs were up welcoming them home, even in the dark of the early morning hours.
“We were so overjoyed to drive by the big signs they have put up,” she said. “It was really awesome to see how much my community supports me, not only now that I have the crown but also before.”
While her contract as Miss Teen Rodeo USA only stipulates that she has to make three events during the year, Carter said she’s taking the title seriously since she is the first person to have it.
“I am trying to set the standard, so I will be traveling probably every weekend, all over to support the sport of rodeo, the IFR and the Miss Rodeo USA Association,” she said.
Carter will be entering her junior year of high school this fall.