North Platte, Neb. – May 20, 2019 – Linda Evans is passing on the things she’s learned to the young women around her.
And she’s doing it through rodeo queen pageants.
The Curtis, Neb. woman has helped in one way or another with the Miss Rodeo Nebraska pageant, the Miss Teen Rodeo Nebraska pageant, the Buffalo Bill Rodeo, and a plethora of other rodeo related activities.
She stays in touch with the rodeo queens around the state, knowing that’s where the field of potential Miss Rodeo Nebraskas come from. She’s an expert at social media, because that’s the “language” of the young women. She’s an encourager, a booster, and a quiet behind-the-scenes worker.
It all stems from more than thirty years ago, when, after a divorce, she had $500 to her name, a seven-year old child, and one year of college education. She learned quickly how to cope, selling copiers, then radio and TV advertising.
When her daughter Kelli won the Sutherland Rodeo Queen title, Evans became interested in rodeo queen pageants. The public speaking skills that Kelli gained from being a rodeo queen helped her as she became the Nebraska High School Rodeo Queen, then a Nebraska State FFA officer, and then a National FFA president, the first ever from Nebraska. The pageants “strengthened her ability to speak well,” Evans said.
Evans had been a barrel racer, so she was familiar with the sport. She began volunteering with the two state rodeo queen pageants. She’s currently the Miss Teen Rodeo pageant director, but she does so much more than organizing the pageant, which takes place the week of the Buffalo Bill Rodeo.
Evans works on helping the next generation of rodeo queens get started. She has organized a rodeo queen clinic for five years before someone else coordinated it, and last year, she put on a rodeo queen contest for six to ten year olds. “You have to start young,” she said. “The contestants say, ‘oh, I had fun,’ and hopefully they want to go back.”
Evans believes in the skills girls can learn through rodeo queen pageants. “There are lifetime skills there,” she said. “Learning how to be in front of people, and not being scared of interviews,” are important things the girls learn. Evans relates the story about a young woman, a past Miss Teen Rodeo Nebraska candidate who didn’t win. At her first interview for a teaching position, she got the job. “They told her she was the best interview they had, and she gave all the credit for trying out for Miss Teen,” Evans said.
Evans, who has been attending the Buffalo Bill Rodeo in North Platte for nearly every year of her life, also volunteers with the rodeo. She helps organize the flags and the cowgirls who carry the flags during each night of the grand entry. Between ten and a dozen rodeo queens from across the state carry the flags on horseback, in addition to the Velvet Spurs, a drill team from the North Platte area. Cowgirls are usually eager to carry flags at the rodeo. “They really want to do it,” Evans said. “It’s a big deal to ride in the Buffalo Bill Rodeo.”
Evans works as diligently for the girls who don’t win titles as the girls who do. “We work hard trying to make them feel good, even if they don’t win,” she said.
She wants the teens and young women who come through the rodeo queen pageants to know their own strength. “I want those young women to feel confident, that they can go and do whatever they want, by themselves. They don’t need anyone to do things for them. They can succeed on their own.”
Her family and friends call her the “caretaker.” Evans moved back to Nebraska thirteen years ago, after two years in Texas, to care for her mother, until her mom passed away in early April. Her son, who is blind due to diabetes, has had two kidney transplants, and alongside his wife, she’s helped care for him during his surgeries.
“I’m the caretaker,” she said. “That’s my purpose in life, to help make somebody else’s life easier.”
She will move to Texas in late June to run a bed and breakfast, and she will be missed, said Cindy Peterson, also a volunteer with the Miss Rodeo Nebraska Association. “You can always depend on Linda,” Peterson said. “With our committee, Linda is always kind and understanding and if we have different ideas, she’s always willing to listen to someone else’s opinion.”
“She’s going to be a hard person to replace,” Peterson said. “It may take two or three people to replace her.”
In addition to her daughter, Kelli Brown and son Kory, Evans has another daughter, Jodi Propst, who lives in North Platte, and four grandsons. Jodi was also a Nebraska State FFA officer.
The Miss Rodeo Nebraska and Miss Teen Rodeo Nebraska pageants are held in conjunction with the Buffalo Bill Rodeo in North Platte. The 2019 Miss Teen Rodeo Nebraska winner will be crowned on June 12 at 1:30 pm at the Community Playhouse in North Platte, and the 2020 Miss Rodeo Nebraska is crowned the same day, during the first night of the rodeo. The rodeo runs June 12-15 and is held at the Wild West Arena in North Platte.
Tickets to the Miss Teen Rodeo Nebraska coronation can be purchased at the door. More information on the activities surrounding the Miss Teen Rodeo Nebraska and Miss Rodeo Nebraska pageant can be found on Facebook (search for Miss Rodeo Nebraska Association.)
Tickets for the rodeo can be purchased at the NebraskalandDays office, online at NebraskalandDays.com, and at the gate. For more information, visit the website or call the office at 308.532.7939.