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From Miss Rodeo Oakdale To Miss Rodeo California
miss rodeo cali
Crowned as the 2023 Miss Rodeo California was McKensey Middleton, a former Miss Rodeo Oakdale who now will represent the state and the sport of rodeo. Photo By Libby Wendy Photography

Call it the culmination of a dream: former Miss Rodeo Oakdale McKensey Middleton recently claimed the title of 2023 Miss Rodeo California.

Her selection came following a three-day competition in San Luis Obispo that consisted of multiple categories such as impromptu speeches and questionnaires, panel interviews, modeling, and showcasing her equestrian skills.

On the last day, the morning started with final speeches by the contestants followed by impromptu questions. Then, with the competition completed, scores were tabulated while the hopefuls had a lunch break. Then, the contestants came back in their coronation outfits and the Queen and Princesses were crowned.

“When I heard my name, I was shocked and excited,” Middleton expressed. “I kept repeating in my head ‘oh my gosh I actually did it’.”

Making the moment more special, her family was there to cheer her on.

In her new role, Middleton will promote both the state of California and the sport of rodeo.

After she earned the title of Miss Rodeo Oakdale back in 2017, she went on to try her hand for Miss Rodeo California 2018. She ended up winning Third Place Princess and Miss Photogenic and went home even more determined to enter again and go for the title when she was ready.

She decided to go back to school that following fall at Modesto Junior College and realized that it was too much to do both rodeo and school and made a decision to stick with school. After two years at MJC, she transferred to UC Davis and graduated in spring of 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry.

After graduation, the first opportunity she got to run for Miss Rodeo California that came her way, she took it.

“The biggest portion of the competition is the horsemanship,” she explained. “Luckily the equestrian team I was on at UC Davis is very similar to the style at this competition.”

Middleton practiced on as many horses as she could since during the competition the riders are placed with horses they aren’t familiar with. She also studied every day for at least two hours and set aside certain categories for certain days to cover as much as she could.

To help practice for the impromptu speeches, she set up mock interviews with panels of people who were generous enough to offer their help. One group that offered to be a part of the panel was the San Joaquin Water District who sent seven of their employees to aid her in speech practice.

“When I was little, I watched my older sister compete for the same title that I just won and I really feel like I achieved a long-time dream,” Middleton explained.

She will go on to compete for Miss Rodeo America in December of 2023, planning to give her all for the chance of obtaining that title as well.

Middleton also wants to offer any advice and support to girls competing in the lower divisions and said they should feel free to contact her through email at with any questions.

“I am thankful to my parents, I don’t think I could have done it without them,” she stated. “And thank you to my Oakdale community, I fell in love with the history of rodeo and competing in Oakdale and I felt so special to have been able to represent it at the competition. I couldn’t have done it without the love from the Cowboy Capital of the World.”

miss rodeo cali
Shown, the new 2023 Miss Rodeo California winner McKensey Middleton alongside the 2022 Miss Rodeo California, Jackie Scarry of Redding. Photo By Libby Wendy Photography