Hastings, Neb. – August 12, 2019 – Halee Kohmetscher never wanted to be a rodeo queen.
It took the pleading of her older sister, Kristin, to convince her to do it.
Growing up on the family farm near Lawrence, the sisters and their brother, Shane, rode horses and attended rodeos. Kristin, the eldest of the three, became involved in rodeo queen pageants, and she wanted her younger sister to join her.
But Halee didn’t want to. “She begged and begged me to do it,” Halee recalled, and finally she caved. “I tried my first contest, and I fell in love from there.”
Halee’s first contest was her first win, in 2013 as the Miss Webster Co. Rodeo Princess. The next year, she finished as runner-up in the Miss Wilsonville Rodeo Queen contest. In 2015, she won the Ogallala Round-Up Princess title, and then won runner-up titles for Southwest Junior Rodeo Queen and Ogallala Round-Up Queen.
Winning runner up wasn’t as exciting as winning titles; there’s no crown for second place. Halee doubted herself, but the losses taught her to work harder at the pageants. “I thought, maybe I need to step it up with studying, and be more consistent in competing,” she said.
Two years ago, she won her hometown title: Miss Nuckolls County Rodeo Queen, then last year, was crowned Miss Oregon Trail Rodeo queen, for the pro rodeo in Hastings.
Competing in rodeo queen pageants teaches girls a lot of skills, Halee said, skills she has put to good use. Networking with strangers: other pageant attendees, their families, and even the pageant judges is good. “Making connections with people is tremendous,” she said.
Friendships are also a big part of “queening.” Halee has made friends among other rodeo queens and candidates. “I have strong relationships with different queens, who I call my sisters. They always have my back and they’re always there if I need something. They’re family, and that’s what I love about being a rodeo queen.”
Halee’s older sister Kristin served as the Oregon Trail Rodeo queen nine years ago and now, Halee follows in her footsteps. Kristin was the 2018 Miss Rodeo Nebraska, representing the state at the national level, and Halee hopes to try for that title, too.
As a second-year student at Northeast Community College in Norfolk, she will graduate in May of next year with an associate’s degree in animal science. She’d like to get a bachelor’s degree at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Kristin is a veterinarian at a clinic in Kansas; Halee may follow her sister into the business, but not as a vet. She’d like to work as a vet clinic office manager or as an animal pharmaceutical representative.
The sisters are the same size, so when Kristin cleaned her queen closet, Halee got first pick of the clothes. It will come in handy when she runs for Miss Rodeo Nebraska. “It’s nice to get new things into the wardrobe.”
The biggest thing she’s learned, is that she is unique. “I think it’s important to be yourself, to do what you do, and make a statement.”
She is the daughter of Duane and the late Laurie Kohmetscher.
Halee will make appearances at the Oregon Trail Rodeo in Hastings August 23-25, during each night of rodeo.
Tickets for the rodeo range in price from $10 to $20 for adults and from $5 to $20 for children. They can be purchased online at www.AdamsCountyFairgrounds.com, at the fairgrounds office, and at the gate.
18 The rodeo starts at 7 pm on August 23-24 and at 5 pm on August 25. For more information, visit the website, follow the rodeo on Facebook or call the fair office at 402.462.3247.