The glitz and glitter of the annual Miss Rodeo Arizona Pageant -- "Get Your Kicks on Route 66" -- is not all there is to this year's contestants. Both young women vying for the crown are championship horsewomen.
Amanda Jenkins and Alisha Liles want to be Arizona's First Lady of Rodeo for 2005.
Payson hosts the 22nd annual Miss Rodeo Arizona Pageant May 20-22 as part of the Gary Hardt Memorial Spring PRCA Rodeo.
Amanda Jenkins was born and raised in Arizona. She is currently working toward a degree in elementary education at Arizona State University, where she is a senior.
Her skills as a horsewoman have earned the rank of Arizona State 4-H Champion in pleasure riding and barrel racing and Arizona Quarter Horse Association Champion in both youth and open divisions for speed events.
Jenkins participated on the Arizona High School Rodeo team and served as the Arizona High School Rodeo Queen.
She was the 2002 Cave Creek Fiesta Days Rodeo Queen and the Cave Creek rodeo committee is sponsoring her participation in the 2005 Miss Rodeo Arizona Pageant.
Jenkins has applied her elementary education training to work with special children, serving as a special needs handler for the 4-H program and volunteering at the Thomas J. Pappas School for the homeless.
She said she felt her love of rodeo is the greatest strength she will bring to her work as Miss Rodeo Arizona if she is selected to wear the crown. "I want to contribute back everything I've gained from it," Jenkins said.
Alisha Liles, Miss Buckeye Rodeo Queen 2005, is a relative newcomer to Arizona, but she has a history of rodeo competition and championships. She has participated in the National Barrel Race Youth World Championships, was a two-time, year-end finalist in the Central Pennsylvania Youth Rodeo Association in barrel racing, pole bending and goat tying. She also received a special award created due to her participation in halter, Western and English pleasure hunter/jumper competition, as well as timed events.
She is a freshman at Estrella Mountain Community College and has been referred for nomination to the National Dean's List for 2005.
Liles has also been included in "Who's Who among American High School Students" for the last two years.
"I have not been doing this very long," Liles said. The Buckeye crown is the first she has won. "If I'm selected, I want to have fun with it. I will be confident in who I am and work to educate others about rodeo and horses."
She is still deciding what career path to take. "I think I will either go into physical therapy or veterinary medicine," she said.
The young women will show their award-winning horsemanship skills between 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Friday, May 20 at the Payson Event Center, followed by a personal appearance at Corral West in the Payson Village Shopping Center, where they will sign autographs.
Other public events during the pageant include:
• Friday, May 20
6:30 p.m. - Doors open at Tonto Apache Tribal Activity Center for first round of competition.
7:15 p.m. to 9 p.m. - Informal modeling; introduction speech; and extemporaneous questions. Admission is $13 at the door, or call Tanya McKinley, (602) 481-8190.
• Saturday, May 21
9 a.m. - Reigning Miss Rodeo Arizona Tamara Clause and visiting rodeo royalty in Rodeo Parade.
10:30 a.m. - Doors open at TAT Activity Center for fashion show and more.
11 a.m. to 2 p.m. - Fashion show; state speech; and silent auction. Admission is $13 at the door, or call Tanya McKinley, (602) 481-8190.
6 p.m. - Budweiser Clydesdale performance at Payson Event Center.
7 p.m. - Payson Rodeo Performance, Payson Event Center.
• Sunday, May 22
9 a.m. - Coronation Continental Breakfast, TAT Activity Center, admission $15 at the door, or call Tanya McKinley, (602) 481-8190.
9:30 a.m. - Coronation, presentation of awards and scholarships, crowning of 2005 Miss Rodeo Arizona. Queen Tamara Clause, Miss Rodeo Arizona 2004, will present the crown to her predecessor.
Clause, 21, represented the Pat Hughes Sierra Stampede Rodeo when she won the crown at the 2004 contest.
Along with winning the title, she captured the photogenic, speech, personality and horsemanship awards.
She began riding at the age of 5 and has won eight Arizona State 4-H Horse Show Championships, competing in English, Western and timed events.
Clause entered the rodeo queen circuit in 1995, winning the title of Sierra Vista Riding Club Youth Rodeo Princess. She won the title again in 1997 and also captured the crowns for the 2001 Sonoita Rodeo Queen and the 2003 Pat Hughes Sierra Stampede Queen.
She attends the University of Arizona.
Representing Arizona at the Miss Rodeo America Pageant in December in Las Vegas, Nev., at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, Clause was named second runner-up.
"They say all good things must come to an end," Clause said in remarks for the pageant program.
"For me, my reign as Miss Rodeo Arizona may be over, but the wisdom and skills I have gained and the experiences I've had will stay with me forever."