For over 50 years, the annual Miss Rodeo Oregon pageant has crowned amazing young women who exemplify strength of character and personality, healthy attitudes, self-fulfillment, and self-respect. Samantha (Sam) Henricks of Grants Pass fits all of those qualities perfectly. As our current Miss Rodeo Oregon, this 25 year-old will be on the go all summer, going from rodeos to fundraisers as she makes her way to the Miss Rodeo America competition in Las Vegas in December. We were lucky enough to spend a little time with this amazing woman and chat about the journey so far.
Miss Rodeo Oregon and her fellow queens at the High Desert Stampede in Redmond, Oregon.
[Farm photos: Sam at her home in Southern Oregon with her favorite horse Dolly.]
“I’ve lived in the Rogue Valley my entire life,” Sam said when asked about her childhood. “I grew up with my two younger siblings. My parents encouraged me to be in 4-H for swine and horse projects. I was even on the Oregon High School Equestrian Teams (OHSET) for Grants Pass High School.”
That background helped prepare Sam for her oncoming interest in Miss Rodeo competitions.
In August of 2019, at the Clackamas County Fair, Sam was crowned the new 2020 Miss Rodeo Oregon. She’d made a run for the crown several times before, learning more with each attempt.
While she was more than ready to fulfill her duties as Miss Rodeo Oregon, those duties and the fundraisers to help her compete for Miss Rodeo America would have to wait thanks to COVID-19 and government restrictions.
“To be honest, I had never really followed the queen scene before 2013,” Sam recalled about the time she realized she might want to be Miss Rodeo Oregon someday. “I met the 2013 Miss Rodeo Oregon at Bishop Mule Days. She told me about her job and role as Miss Rodeo Oregon. Then one day I just decided to do it. I’d compete to be Miss Rodeo Oregon.”
She started on the Central Point Wild Rogue Pro Rodeo court. She learned a lot and was introduced to the world of civic events and luncheons. In 2016, she made her first attempt at the crown.
“I might not have won, but I learned a lot,” she said. “In 2017, I won the title of Miss NPRA, which had me representing Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Nevada. Then I took a one-year break and ran for Miss Rodeo Oregon again in 2018.”
She was an impressive first runner-up.
“I was really defeated at that point.”
But that isn’t Sam’s usual attitude toward anything in life. Sure, she has a rewarding career as a Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) at Siskiyou Pediatric Clinic, but she knew that if she didn’t try one last time at the Miss Rodeo Oregon title, she’d regret it. So, in 2019 she entered her name again.
“I was the only contestant,” she recalled. “You’d think that would be easier, but it’s not. There is no guarantee you’ll win. And all eyes are always on you. I did my best and was crowned Miss Rodeo Oregon.”
Today, she proudly dons the sash.
“The younger generation needs positive role models to show them anything is possible with hard work, grit, and determination,” she added with a smile as she saddled her three-year-old quarter horse, Dolly. “Yes, she’s named after Dolly Parton.”
Sam will hold the title of Miss Rodeo Oregon for two years due to COVID 19 and crown 2022’s winner. In the meantime, she’ll be ramping up for Miss Rodeo America. In all, there will likely be upwards of 38 women competing for the title, Sam explained.
“Some states don’t have Miss Rodeo programs.”
She’s already preparing for what’s to come, including collecting and finalizing 20 outfits for the competition.
“It’s a week-long pageant, from Sunday to Sunday, and you wear two different outfits every day. That’s why I’m getting my wardrobe together way in advance.”
Those outfits include the iconic coronation dress, and an array of outfits from modest western dresses to interview outfits, jacket and skirt combinations, as well as leather jackets and other western trending fashions.
Getting all of those outfits together takes money. Fundraising helps a lot.
“Normally, we’d have an auction to help raise money to send me to Vegas, but COVID put a damper on that. This year, we’re doing poker trail rides and a barrel racing competition fundraiser. We hope to be able to do the auction in the summer.”
She also has people helping her study.
“We have bi-weekly Zoom calls to study rodeo knowledge, history, speeches, agribusiness, current events, equine science, and interviews. They’re all skills I’ll need for Miss Rodeo America. That includes the fashion show. Plus, I’ll compete in horsemanship.”
That part of the competition will put Sam in the saddle of an unfamiliar horse. She’ll then be required to show riding competency with various patterns.
To start this year’s events, we caught up with her at the High Desert Stampede in Redmond, Oregon.
“This was the first Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association (PRCA) rodeo in Oregon this year and it sure felt great to be back in the saddle.”
She’ll represent the Miss Rodeo Oregon Program and the PRCA at over a dozen rodeos and other events throughout the summer and into the fall.
“I’ll be heading to the Cattle Barons livestock sale in Pendleton in May, Sisters Rodeo in June, Crooked River Roundup in late June, and the Cowboy Christmas over the 4th of July holiday in St. Paul, Molalla and Eugene.”
Her other engagements include the Elgin Stampede, Cheyanne Frontier Days in Wyoming in late July, Chief Joseph Days, the Canby Rodeo, Farm City Pro Rodeo, Ellensburg Rodeo, the Pendleton Roundup, and the Columbia River Circuit Finals.
“It all leads up to the Miss Rodeo America Pageant held at the Southpoint Casino. I’ll do my best to make Oregon proud. If I do well, it’ll be icing on the cake,” she added. “Just getting to compete is a big deal. Not many can say that. All of the girls are worthy, and every one of us will do great.”
Good luck, Sam! Every one of us at Coastal is incredibly proud of you are cheering you on from afar. We know you’ll do wonderfully.