From bucking bulls to beauty pageants
Two worlds couldn't be farther apart — working with bucking bulls and competing in a state beauty pageant.
That is the reality for Kaley Blasdell, who recently gained the title of Mrs. Crook County, which is a title that qualifies her for the United States of America, or USOA, pageant. She will compete for the title of Mrs. Oregon in August 2020. Blasdell was the lone woman to seek the local title, met the criteria, and was awarded the title from the pageant organization. Blasdell hopes that her efforts will lead to a local pageant for Mrs. Crook County in the future.
Blasdell has inspired a number of young women in the community as she has moved forward with preparations for the pageant. She added that, in turn, the women of the community have inspired her to push forward.
"I'm not just a role model for them, but they are also a role model for me, because it's them that makes me push harder," Blasdell said. "That makes me happy and makes me strive to do better things."
Blasdell is from Shandon, California, a community that is considerably smaller than Prineville. She describes it as approximately the same size as Mitchell, Oregon. She now resides in Prineville and is a rodeo stock contractor and raises bucking bulls for a living. It all started when she was 16 years old, and she fell in love with raising bulls.
"At that time, it was the Western States Bucking Bull Association," Blasdell said.
She noted that bulls are treated like other professional athletes. If they are sore, they're given an ice bath. She said that how you act around them and how you treat them makes the difference.
"Once you put them in the bucking chutes and you put a flank rope on them, they know it's business," Blasdell said.
In 2012, she won the title of High Point Stock Contractor of the Year, and she has been working with bulls since then. She met her husband, Logan, through rodeo. He is a bullfighter, and she smiled as she recalled the day they met.
"We met in Chelan, Washington, for the first time," she noted. "He got run over by one of my bulls."
The rest is history, and they had a son, Ridge, on Valentine's Day three years ago.
"This last year, Logan's bullfighting career just took off completely," Blasdell said.
Blasdell has made it to six PBR finals with her bulls, and she has made the decision to temporarily retire from raising bulls to spend more time supporting her husband's career. Their careers often take them in different directions. Logan's season starts in April and goes through early October.
She added that what she does is different than what her husband does — he is in the professional rodeo circuit, and Blasdell is involved in futurity and PBR.
"They are kind of the same, but different associations," she added. "I am retiring from the bull business for a while. With Logan's career taking off so great, I don't want to miss out on anything."
She said that she knows she will get back to the bull business, as it has been a lifestyle for a long time.
Blasdell felt that she needed to do the pageant after being in a man's world for so long. She is also nervous about the idea of being on stage, even though she works with animals that sometimes exceed 2,000 pounds.
"How can I be so scared of doing this, when I run around with 1,800-pound bulls every day?"
The USOA pageants are designed to encourage women to strive to achieve their hopes, dreams, goals and aspirations, while making them feel confident and beautiful inside and out, according to the organization.
Their motto is to empower women, inspire others, and uplift everyone. They focus on promoting positive self-image, while advocating a platform of community service that allows contestants to rise by lifting others.
"It's not a beauty pageant, it's a confidence program," Blasdell said.
There are four categories for the contest: the USOA teen, Miss, Ms., and Mrs. Blasdell will be competing in the Mrs. Category, which requires the contestant to be between the ages of 21 and 59. They must be a United States citizen and must work or go to school in the state in which they are competing. They also must be a natural born female and have been married for at least six months.
The contest is scored in four categories, with the weight evenly distributed between personal interview, swimwear, evening gown and onstage question. Contestants must first have a local or county title to compete at the state level. The Mrs. Oregon contest will take place Aug. 21-23, with all four categories competing consecutively over the three days.
The competition will include Washington state candidates, as they have not had contestants compete for the state level before. Blasdell said that she has been in one other pageant, for the California State Fair, immediately after high school.
She likes the Prineville community and is impressed with how people support each other.
"The people are friendly here, they're sweet here. It's little America here, and that's what I like about it, because it was little America down there (California)," she said. "I guess once you are from one small town and move to another small town, things don't really change a whole lot, which is nice."
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