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Stoddard County native on her way to national rodeo competition
BLOOMFIELD, Mo. -- Erin Watts knows rodeo, and the rodeo circuit knows her.
The 25-year-old Stoddard County native was recently named Miss Rodeo Missouri, and as a result will be on her way to Las Vegas at the end of this month to compete for the national title of Miss Rodeo America.
"I believe I'll be competing with about 20 to 30 other girls," the Bloomfield woman said. "It should be a lot of fun."
Watts graduated from Bell City High School and later earned a bachelor of science degree from Missouri Valley College in Marshall, Mo. She has participated in rodeo events for as long as she can recall.
"My first pony was Molly Bee," Watts said, "and I've been barrel racing and participating in pole bending, goat tying, team roping and breakaway roping for years."
Her parents, Brad and Whitney Watts of Bloomfield, competed in team roping and other rodeo events since Erin was a young child.
"I used to travel with them when I was little all the time," she said.
When it was suggested she compete in the queen's events locally, she gave it a try, still on the high school level, and won, proceeding later to Sikeston Jaycee Bootheel Rodeo and eventually to the state level.
"I didn't win the first year, but I told them I'd be back," Watts said.
And she was, eventually earning the Miss Rodeo Missouri title that will take her to the national spotlight.
These days, Watts rides Dixie, her barrel horse.
"She still has a lot to learn," Watts said, "but she shows a lot of promise."
Time to devote to Dixie's training has been scarce in recent months as Watts prepares for the Las Vegas competition.
It is Watts' goal during her reign as Miss Rodeo Missouri and perhaps beyond to promote the rodeo, the western way of life and the agricultural world in general.
"I'd like to show people who are not familiar with this type of life just how great it is," she said.
"Rodeo is a way of life that needs to be protected as it helps bring families together. It teaches young people responsibilities and how to care about someone and something other than themselves."