Jadayia Kursh, a Fort Smith native, has built an incredible career as the first Black rodeo queen in Arkansas. This week, Kursh announced the first Rodeo Fort Smith Pageant scheduled for Feb. 10-12 at the Hero’s Arena, 14445 State Hwy 59, in Natural Dam, Arkansas. This is approximately fourteen miles outside of Fort Smith. The pageant benefits Agriculture for Kids, a nonprofit organization devoted to reaching kids who don’t have access to Future Farmers of America (FFA).

 

Rodeo Queen

 

Kursh knew her whole life that she wanted to be a cowgirl. As a child, she started riding horses at age 6. At age 16, when most girls were interested in boys and fast cars, Kursh got involved with the rodeo.

 

In 2021, Kursh sat down with Kelly Clarkson on The Kelly Clarkson Show and discussed her journey. In 2017, Kursh was crowned Miss Rodeo Coal Hill of Arkansas. It was later identified that this made her the first Black rodeo queen in the state.

 

Rodeo Queen

 

“When I won that title, I was just doing it for fun,” Kursh said. “I didn’t even know that I was the first Black rodeo queen in Arkansas until 2019. I’m proud of it. But for me, rodeo was never a Black and white thing until I had to start dealing with the racism and the stuff that came with me winning.”

 

Over the years, Kursh has continued to be a role model for the rodeo. She raises money for charity events and works with children in agriculture. In addition, Kursh has partnerships with Wrangler and Justin Boots.

 

Rodeo Queen

 

“Whenever you see a Black woman on a horse, you don’t ignore her. You are going to pay attention to her. Because to some people, it is so foreign, it is so rare,” Kursh said. “To be the first Black rodeo queen in Arkansas is something so much bigger than myself . . . It’s never been about me. It’s about the little girls who look up to me and the little girl that looks just like me and has never seen a girl in this position. To me, it’s to continue to empower young women and show them we can step up and be whoever we want to be.”

 

Rodeo Queen

 

The entry and application closing date for the pageant is Jan. 5, 2023. For more information, call 479-420-3109 or email courtneymcrae@agforkids.org.

 

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