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Stickney woman wins fifth rodeo crown

Nicole Boomsma makes one of her first appearances as Miss Faith Stock Show and Rodeo queen at the Dacotah Stampede Rodeo in Aberdeen with one of the horses contracted for the rodeo. Part of being a rodeo queen involves making appearances, and Boomsma said some of hers will be in the upcoming Dakota Wesleyan University parade and the Wilbur-Ellis Corn Palace Challenge. (Photo courtesy of Nicole Boomsma)1 / 3
From left, Nicole Boomsma, her aunt Penny Tilton and cousin Alexis (Lexi) Tilton, all have held Corn Palace rodeo queen titles. Boomsma said her aunt and family have inspired her to pursue her dreams of rodeo queening. (Photo courtesy of Nicole Boomsma)2 / 3
Nicole Boomsma's awards from queening are displayed, including her Miss Faith Stock Show and Rodeo queen sash and Black Hills gold crown in this undated photograph. (Photo courtesy of Nicole Boomsma)3 / 3

Like Hank Williams Jr. sang, some things are a family tradition.

For the women in Nicole Boomsma's family, it's rodeo queening.

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The 23-year-old Stickney native recently took home her fifth crown when she was named Miss Faith Stock Show and Rodeo Queen in August.

"It's such an honor to represent rodeo," said Boomsma, now of Mitchell. "I'm so happy to be in this position."

Boomsma, the daughter of Patti and Kenny Boomsma, of Stickney, has been queening since she was 6 years old. She was inspired by her aunt, Penny Tilton, of Mount Vernon, who was also a rodeo queen.

"She was my inspiration and my role model which motivated me to be what I am today," Boomsma said.

Queening has stuck, Boomsma said, because it allows her to be an ambassador for her favorite sport.

"I just like to be able to represent rodeo," she said. "It's our No. 1 sport in South Dakota, and I just love it. I love everything about rodeo."

Her cousin, Lexi Tilton -- Penny's daughter -- won the Corn Palace Stampede princess title in 2012, and also participated in the Faith Stock Show.

"We've just got a generation thing going on," Boomsma said.

Boomsma said she has competed for every title at the Corn Palace Stampede in Mitchell and was crowned Miss Corn Palace Stampede in 2008. She said her last title at that time was Miss Rodeo Aberdeen in 2010 (while going to beauty school).

"I took three years off thinking I wasn't going to go back to rodeo queening," Boomsma said.

She went to Black Hills Beauty College (in the Sioux Falls location) and now works as a full-time cosmetologist at Prestige in Mitchell. Every Tuesday, she heads back to the family farm by Stickney, where her horses are.

"It's hard, but I promised my little cousin, Lexi, and every Tuesday we go riding," Boomsma said.

Once her queening days are done, Boomsma said she hopes to switch gears slightly and start showing horses. But she's not ready to hang up her hat -- or her crowns -- just yet. Boomsma made a promise when she was younger, and she wanted to keep it.

"When I was six years old, I told my grandpa I was going to win him a saddle," she said. "I just don't want to regret not doing it."

Plus, Grandpa won't let her forget it.

"He still, to this day, bugs me about it," Boomsma said with a laugh. "Hopefully by the end of the year, I'll have two saddles that are for him."

The first saddle Boomsma hopes to win is in January, at the Black Hills Stock Show. The second is next July, when she plans to compete in the Miss Rodeo South Dakota queen contest. If she wins, not only would that give her -- and grandpa -- a saddle, it would put her in the running for Miss Rodeo America.

In addition to that saddle, the Black Hills Stock Show is a Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association event, and Boomsma said she wants to get a PRCA title before heading to the Miss Rodeo South Dakota competition, also a PRCA contest, in July.

"When you come with a pro title, you kind of come with the experience behind it," Boomsma said. "But, I've seen a lot of girls come with no title at all and swipe it all away."

The Faith Stock Show is a South Dakota Rodeo Association event, but Boomsma said the rodeo runs its queen contest like a PRCA contest, with a similar format and categories -- one of the reasons she chose it. Personal interview questions can range from testing contestants' knowledge of South Dakota rodeo cowboys and cowgirls, to horse anatomy, to rodeo rules, to current events and politics.

"There's a lot of preparation that goes into becoming a rodeo queen," Boomsma said. "It's not about just being pretty on a horse; it's about having the knowledge to back that up."

For horsemanship, contestants must ride their horses through what's called a "reining" pattern -- as in the reins used on the horse's bridle -- which they are judged on. It also includes a horsemanship interview, where a panel of judges asks the contestants questions.

In the Faith Stock Show, Boomsma was able to ride her favorite horse, X, a quarter horse. But for many queen contests, the contestants must ride horses provided for them. Boomsma credits her upbringing and horse trainer with giving her the confidence to be able to get on any horse and perform well.

"That's honestly my favorite part, is riding other people's horses," Boomsma said. "Growing up, I didn't have a horse of my own, so I had to be able to ride other people's horses."

Other contest categories included speech, a personal interview and modeling. Despite her hiatus from competing, Boomsma came back strong.

"I won every category in the competition, so that's kind of a cool thing for me to be able to come back that strong," she said. "All my dreams are starting to come true. It means a lot."

She was also voted Miss Congeniality by the other queen contestants, which she attributed, at least in part, to her compassion for one of the contestants who fell off her horse during her horsemanship pattern. Boomsma's been there.

"I was the rodeo queen who got bucked off her horse trying to give away her title at the Corn Palace Rodeo. I was wearing all white," she said with a laugh. "There are things that are going to happen."

Boomsma said she feels honored to be the 25th queen to wear the Faith Stock Show crown, which she said is one of three Black Hills gold crowns in the nation -- the other two belonging to the South Dakota High School Rodeo Queen and Miss Rodeo America.

"I'm privileged enough to be wearing one of them," Boomsma said. "It's beautiful. I'm so proud of that crown."

She's hoping to someday wear one of the others -- the Miss Rodeo America crown. But first, she's already started preparing for the Miss Rodeo South Dakota competition.

"It would just be such an honor and a privilege for me," she said. "It would be kind of a dream come true, if I would be able to accomplish that."

Boomsma mentioned another Mitchell queen, reigning Miss South Dakota Tessa Dee, as an inspiration and motivation.

"With Tessa Dee, I have a lot of to follow up on. She's represented South Dakota so well," Boomsma said. "Especially at the Miss Rodeo South Dakota level, I want to perform well, and represent the town of Mitchell well. With rodeo as our No. 1 sport, I want to make sure I represent South Dakota with our heritage standing behind us, too."

And Boomsma said she hopes to encourage others in her community.

"I want to be that same inspiration that Tessa has been to me," she said.