The two contestants for Miss Great Northern Rodeo 2014 will grace the arena with their horses at the Great Northern Fair Thursday.
Jaye Dee Han, organizer of the pageant and one for the Miss Rodeo Montana pageant, said she received three contestants Monday.
One dropped out and now the competition will be between Sheridan O’Neil, 16, and Rachel Bartlett, 16.
O’Neil said she decided to run for Miss Great Northern Rodeo because she wants to keep young people involved in rodeo.
“I want to keep people interested because rodeo has been known since the beginning of time, and I wanted the younger kids to try to keep going and become Miss Rodeo America,” O’Neil said.
O’Neil, who was born and raised in Havre, has been riding horses for seven years. This will be her first pageant, and she will be riding her horse, Charlie.
“My horse and I have been riding a couple years together and she’s pretty good with all the riding capability,” she said.
Bartlett was born in Washington state and raised in Havre. This will be her first rodeo.
She said she is very excited for the competition. She said she has been riding horses for 10 years and added that she thinks she has what it takes to become Miss Great Northern Rodeo.
“I know a lot about horses, and I know a lot about rodeos,” Bartlett said.
Bartlett will be riding her horse Mocha for the horsemanship portion of the pageant.
The competition is for 16- to 24-year-old women and they will have the opportunity to take part in other rodeos and community events once they take the title of Miss Great Northern Rodeo.
Laramie Pursley was last year’s winner of the pageant, but she will not crown the winner of Thursday’s competition as she has relinquished the crown after winning the Miss Rodeo Montana pageant.
Pursley has traveled all over Montana and to seven states since her coronation and has received sponsorships from many local companies to help her in her travels. Tilleman Motor Co. gave her a new truck to travel in for the year and she has received a $8,200 scholarship from Montana State University-Northern in addition to the more than 20 sponsors who have given her at least $500.
“My traveling would not be possible at all without my sponsors,” Pursley said.
She just returned from a rodeo in Wolf Point and will be visiting rodeos until she goes to Las Vegas for the Miss Rodeo America pageant in December.
The runner-up of last year’s Great Northern pageant, Neya Bischoff, will crown Miss Great Northern Rodeo 2014. Pursley will also be at the event for support.
“This pageant, I got to learn exactly what it takes (to be Miss Rodeo Montana),” Pursley said. “It was just a lot of fun.”
She added that competing in the Great Northern pageant last year, which was her first year, helped her with preparing for her pursuing of the state title.
Han said she and the other organizers of the pageant try to model it after the Miss Rodeo Montana competition, but make it all fit into one day.
The competitors will have to get through five categories: horsemanship, speech, impromptu question, presentation and personality and photogenics.
“We focus mainly on horsemanship,” Han said. She added that the horsemanship portion will begin 9:30 a.m. at the Great Northern Fairgrounds open arena.
The speaking portions of the pageant will be at the Holiday Village Mall later Thursday.