It takes a combination of beauty, brains, personality, talent and horsemanship skills to win the title of rodeo queen, and Lindsey Thompson of Kansas, Okla., proved she had all of the above when she was crowned 2018 Rodeo of the Ozarks Queen last June in Springdale.
Thompson has spent most of her summer working at Camp Siloam as a recreation leader, but she was able to sit down for an interview last week about her experience in the rodeo queen contest.
As 2015 Siloam Springs Rodeo Queen and a member of the Siloam Springs Riding Club, Thompson is a familiar face to rodeo fans in Siloam Springs. She is also a member of the Siloam Springs-based Element Christ Riders, as well as a former member of the SkyHigh Angels drill team. She is the daughter of Troy and Jessica Thompson of Kansas and the granddaughter of Dr. Larry and Genia VanDyck of West Siloam Springs, Okla.
Currently, Thompson is attending Northwest Arkansas Community College with the goal of becoming an elementary school teacher. She is also a dental assistant at VanDyck Dentistry in Siloam Springs.
Thompson started doing pageants and rodeo princess contests when she was a small child, but it had been a few years since she had been in a pageant when she made her bid for the Siloam Springs Rodeo Queen in 2015. Winning gave her confidence to keep going and begin persuing other rodeo queen titles.
"It gave me a boost, I feel like," she said.
Thompson ran for Miss Rodeo of the Ozarks in 2017 and won first runner-up. She also won first runner-up for Miss American Cowboy Rodeo Association in September 2017. Her grandma encouraged her to try again this year for Miss Rodeo of the Ozarks.
"I have always admired the leadership of the women who have worn this crown before me," Thompson said, in explanation of her reason for entering the contest a second time.
Like most rodeo queen contests, the four-day Rodeo of the Ozarks queen competition includes personality and horsemanship interviews, modeling and fashion, horsemanship and speech. Participants are also scored on their ability to greet and mingle with fans during public appearances.
However, unlike other rodeo queen contests, the Rodeo of the Ozarks requires contestants to compete on their own, without the help of family members or even cell phones. Contestants sign in at Holiday Inn in Springdale at the beginning of the rodeo week, where they are greeted by legendary 85-year-old pageant director Pat Hutter, daughter of rodeo founder Shortie Parsons. Contenders for the crown have to dress themselves and do their own hair and makeup all week. In addition to the competitions, they ride in parades, speak at civic clubs, greet fans and sign autographs at the rodeo, and ride each night.
Thompson feels like her previous experience helped her feel more comfortable this year.
"I was scared the first year, but this year I was so relaxed and just myself, it was nice," she said.
Thompson said her mom helps her get her horse ready for the competition while her grandma helps her prepare her wardrobe and speeches. She also had help from horse trainers Jerry Queen and Chase Stricklin of Westville, Okla., who helped her prepare for the technicalities of the horsemanship portion of the competition.
Thompson has grown up on horses and one of her passions is breaking and training her own horses. Her competition horse, Pretty Girl, is the first horse she has bought herself, she said.
One of the lighter moments of the competition occurred during the personality interview, Genia said. The judges asked Thompson if she knew how to floss, and as a professional dental assistant she was well prepared with a thorough answer on proper dental care. Once she finished her answer, the panel of judges explained they meant the dance, so Thompson demonstrated that too.
"She didn't say, 'Do you know how to do the dance floss,'" Thompson said with a laugh. "She said, 'Do you know how to floss,' and I was like, 'Girl, let me tell you, I've been practicing this all year long working at the dental office.'"
Genia said the judges later told her they were completely charmed by the answer, and had to wait a full five minutes before their laughter died down enough to call in the next contestant.
Thompson said she made lots of friends during the competition and was especially excited to room with Molly Music, 2017 Rodeo of the Ozarks queen. But the best part of the contest was "any time I was on my horse," she said. Thompson especially loves what she calls "queen waves," when the queen contestants gallop around the arena and wave at the crowd.
Thompson's duties as queen will include representing the Rodeo of the Ozarks at other professional rodeos by signing autographs and doing queen waves. She will also be speaking to civic groups and school children.
Thompson said she loves meeting people and telling them about the sport of rodeo and the western lifestyle.
"I've always grown up in the western lifestyle and I just love riding horses," she said.
When Thompson speaks to children, part of her message will be about one of the challenges she has faced on her road to become a rodeo queen. Since first grade, she has struggled with severe dyslexia, a learning disorder that makes it difficult to tell left from right, and makes it easy to mix up letters while reading.
Dyslexia has even been a challenge for Thompson while she is riding horses, but she has learned coping techniques. When she was younger, her mom would tie a piece of string to one of her fingers to help her remember her barrel pattern. She also has developed an amazing memory, which has helped her with tasks such as announcing at rodeos, according to her grandma. Not only is she a rodeo queen, but she is also successful as a college student with good grades.
"She has overcome so much just with (her dyslexia)," Genia said. "She has embraced it and dealt with it and still has to deal with it in college. ... It's something she doesn't let get her down, but she has to deal with it in everything."
Thompson hasn't always shared a lot about her dyslexia, but now she is hopeful the adversity she has faced will show kids that they can overcome challenges too.
Once Thompson has completed her year as Rodeo of the Ozarks Queen, she hopes to continue competing in rodeo queen contests and dreams of one day making it to the Miss Rodeo USA competition.
General News on 08/08/2018
Print Headline: Another crown for Thompson