‘A dream come true’: Mandaree woman finishes in top 10 at Miss Rodeo America

Published: Jan. 9, 2023 at 2:10 PM CST
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MANDAREE, N.D. (KFYR) – The new year means new challenges for a Mandaree woman. After 17 years of competing for rodeo princess and queen titles, Elise Burwell is calling it a career.

The good news: she’s ending on a high note. Last month, Burwell represented North Dakota at the Miss Rodeo America pageant and finished in the top 10.

Elise Burwell has dozens of videos and thousands of photos documenting her time as Miss Rodeo North Dakota. She saddled up to the idea of being a rodeo queen as a young girl.

“I was nine years old when I attended my first Miss Rodeo North Dakota pageant,” she recalled. “I won my first title that next summer and I held titles very consistently throughout.”

In her 17 years of competing, Burwell held nine titles, including Miss Rodeo North Dakota 2022. That title allowed her to compete for Miss Rodeo America, a childhood dream come true. Elise finished in the top 10.

“I’m really proud of myself,” Burwell said. “And I’m proud to show the judges who I am and what North Dakota represents.”

She also made lifelong friends.

“I got to spend eight days with 27 of my best friends and I learned a lot of skills that you learn in a year really that you can’t get anywhere else,” she said.

She’ll carry those skills, memories and friendships created in the rodeo arena with her forever.

As she hangs up her crown and starts the next chapter of her life, she’s looking forward to more time in her favorite place.

“On the back of the horse is kind of where I feel peace and it is my favorite place to be,” said Burwell.

It is there, on horseback, where Burwell says she learned and grew as a rodeo queen. And it is where she will continue to evolve into the woman she’s meant to be.

Burwell has a degree in math and is looking for a job in the natural gas and oil industry.

She hopes to buy a few cows and start her own herd while also competing in barrel racing and will stay involved in the Miss Rodeo North Dakota organization, mentoring other young girls who dream of one day competing for the title of Miss Rodeo America.