Contestants Vie For Silver Crown Showdown Honors

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The young women who seek the title of Miss Rodeo Arizona wish to promote the sport of rodeo and the Western way of life.

The Miss Rodeo Arizona Silver Crown Showdown pageant will again be held in Payson, in conjunction with the Payson Spring Rodeo, May 15 through May 18.

"These are girls who like Western life and promote the western way of living, and are very well-mannered," said Anna Jo Barriger, board member of Miss Rodeo Arizona, Inc.

Events will be held at the Tonto Apache Activity Center, except the horsemanship, which will be held at the Payson Rodeo grounds.

"The pageant has everything that Miss America does except the talent is horsemanship," Barriger said.

Corral West will host the Arizona queens and several out-of-state queens for autograph signing and photographs. Rodeo queens attending the autograph signing are Miss Rodeo Montana, Idaho, Colorado, Washington, Mississippi, Texas Teen Queen, and Arizona Teen Queen.

Friday morning, the out-of-state queens will be given an aerial tour of the Rim country, courtesy of the Payson Pilots' Association.

The four contestants for the 2003 title are Heather Free, Kenni Decker, Tamara Clause, and Sarah Johnson. Contestants are judged by three out-of-state judges on: horsemanship, personality, speech, modeling, private interviews, extemporaneous questions and appearance.

"The extemporaneous questions can be tough," Barriger said. "You never know what the judges will ask. They expect the girls to be well-read and up on current events."

Tamara Clause

Tamara Clause, 19, is currently the 2003 Pat Hughes Sierra Stampede Queen. Daughter of Hal and BJ Clause of Sierra Vista, Tamara attended high school at Buena High in Sierra Vista and graduated in 2001.

Tamara is currently studying communications at the University of Arizona in Tucson, and is in the Honors College and on the dean's list.

She has wanted to be Miss Rodeo Arizona since 1997, when MiQuel Holyoak won the title. She would like to follow in MiQuel's footsteps by traveling all over the state to rodeos and related events.

Kenni Decker

Kenni Decker, 24, represents the "World's Oldest Rodeo" as the 2002 Miss Prescott Frontier Days Queen and hails from the town where rodeo is said to have had its beginnings.

Kenni graduated from Prescott High School and attends Yavapai College in Prescott where she is studying business administration with an emphasis on public relations.

Kenni's titles include 2002 Miss Prescott Frontier Days, 1998 Miss Turquoise Circuit, 1996 Miss Teen Arizona, 1995 Prescott Frontier Days Senior Court and 1993 Miss Rodeo Arizona Junior Teen Queen.

As Miss Rodeo Arizona, Kenni Decker would embrace the opportunity to teach others the power of their dreams and the satisfaction of success.

Heather Freeman

Heather Freeman, 22, is a proud Arizona native. She is the daughter of Albert and Deanna Freeman, who raised her in the Western lifestyle, surrounded by horses, rodeo and family.

Heather attended high school in Flagstaff and is a junior at the University of Arizona, majoring in political science.

Heather plans to follow in her father's footsteps by pursuing a career as an attorney.

Heather's first title was Flagstaff Pine Country Pro Rodeo Teen Queen in 1998. Other titles followed, including Cave Creek Fiesta Days Rodeo Queen and La Fiesta de los Vaqueros Tucson Rodeo Princess. Heather is currently serving as the Flagstaff Pine Country Pro Rodeo Queen for 2003.

Sarah Johnson

Sarah, 19, is the daughter of Kenneth and Glenda Johnson of Yuma, Arizona. She attended Cibola High School in Yuma, graduating in 2001.

Sarah attended Arizona Western College and is now at the University of Arizona, studying agricultural systems management.

She plans to attend graduate school and study either veterinary science or agricultural business.

Sarah's current royalty title is her first -- the 2002 Yuma Jaycees Silver Spur Rodeo Queen. Sarah studied and prepared with her friends for royalty contests and competed in rodeo events.

That work has paid off as Sarah prepares to compete for the state's biggest prize -- Miss Rodeo Arizona.

The winner of the Miss Rodeo Arizona pageant will receive a saddle and a scholarship to any college or university in Arizona.

Tickets for the events are available at the door or at any Circle K store.

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