The next day, after more breakfast speeches, a second round of interviews got under way. Personality Judges, to take the girls unaware, resorted to such questions as, "Do you believe in polygamy?" for Miss Rodeo Utah (who replied tranquilly, "Yes. I had five mothers"). Miss Rodeo Nevada was less tranquil when asked what the Pentagon Papers were—"Gee, I just know we studied that in school"—and an interesting number of the girls listed Look as one of their regular magazines. Miss Rodeo Southwest Texas came through nicely, however, by explaining the Dewey Decimal System and replying, when asked if she felt there should be a swimsuit category, "Why? Western clothes are cut so tight they aren't going to hide anything about a girl's figure."
The following morning saw the girls off to a nearby ranch to show how well they could handle a horse. Since Miss Rodeo America is expected to ride any horse she's given at the various rodeos she will adorn, the judges were understandably bent on sifting out any Sunday riders. The test consisted of two go-rounds on two strange horses, chosen by draw. The rider had to execute a figure eight with change of lead, come to a sliding stop, do quarter turns on the haunches, a clover leaf around barrels and finish with a Miss Rodeo Queen gallop around the ring, acknowledging the crowd; on a third horse they did a pole-bending pattern, a sort of equestrian slalom. This was followed by the goat-tying. In real rodeos it is calf-roping, but (Women's Lib or no) it is admitted that the girls are not as strong as the boys, so the former tie a tethered goat, which is lighter than a calf. They gallop to it, stop, leap off and run for the goat as though it were on the end of a lasso attached to the saddle. Quite a few fingernails bit the dust, but on the whole the girls picked up the animals and flanked them like pros. Despite a much needed change of goat halfway through the proceedings, the replacement bellowed in such outrage every time she was flanked that one judge remarked, "That goat's going to be glad we're at the end of the alphabet."
No doubt the girls were, too. Except for the final seven breakfast speakers, the judging was over. That evening there was a pajama party at the unfashionably early hour, for pajama parties, of 9 p.m. It featured, in addition to soft drinks, potato chips and the like, an exchange of gifts among the contestants. Miss Rodeo Colorado had miniature cowboy hats—it had taken her grandmother three weeks to knit them—attached to state recipe books. Miss Rodeo California passed around state spoons. Miss Rodeo Texas distributed Neiman-Marcus shopping bags and yellow roses of Texas folded into scarves with Texas charms attached. Miss Rodeo Oklahoma had some leather and wood hair slides made by the prisoners at the state penitentiary, and Miss Rodeo Nebraska passed out a replica of the state mascot. She and Miss Rodeo Oklahoma had a few words to say to each other about football—not a new subject between them. Idaho proved the most munificent state, as ashtrays, paperweights, beef jerky and candy bars came out of cardboard cartons. Iola Anglin, the Idaho state rodeo queen, explained that there had also been some cheese; it had turned moldy in shipping, but at least she had some pencils to hand out from the cheese makers. Shortly, some of the girls were exchanging their addresses and even addressed envelopes as they planned to keep in touch. Clearly, they were sharing an important experience. Many of them had come on their first plane ride and others were visiting the biggest city they had ever seen—insofar as they got to see it at all. Even Dorothy Alexander unbent to the extent of relaxing the rules against visiting between rooms.
By the next day she had toughened up again. At the afternoon rehearsal for the evening's big moment, she showed her charges where and how to stand and then announced, in a speech calling to mind the best of Mary Poppins and Casey Stengel, "Now one thing I do not want, after they start with fourth runner-up and so on, and one of you knows that you are the only girl left and you know, whoever you are, that you are Miss Rodeo America—I don't want clutching of the face and a great EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeee!"
The ladies heeded her words. After the last special trophy for Miss Horsemanship (tiny Vicki Christensen of Oregon) the five finalists were called forward. The only person who displayed emotion was Susan Merrill, the retiring Miss Rodeo America, who choked and teared most becomingly. But when Miss Rodeo Nevada, Pam Martin (4-H Junior Leader; Nevada Cowboy's Association "Rookie of the Year" 1971; member, Elks Helldorado Committee, Lodge #1468; and registered model), saw that she was going to be the chosen one, she kept herself well in hand. Clutching the Miss Personality trophy, attired in all the regalia—banner, roses and crown (worn, in this instance, around her hat like a large hatband)—she accepted the honor graciously. She stepped forward, grasped the mike and began the speech, the one that begins, "I want to thank my parents...."
But who's to say about winners. Miss Rodeo Nebraska, Chris Ferguson, who had stood all afternoon valiantly squinting through her contacts and exchanging quips with Miss Rodeo Oklahoma, was also ready to receive congratulations. The oldest contestant (at 21), she had changed her goal from schoolteaching to horse training because "After all," as she said, "it's better to be called an old maid horse trainer than an old maid schoolteacher." But then she decided against both. Chris Ferguson announced her engagement.