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Branded in History - Miss Reno Rodeo 2019

Photos by Jeramie Lu Photography

From the moment Kaely Juzek walked into her first Reno Rodeo, she knew it was going to leave a lasting impression on her life. Her first memories are deeply intertwined with the sights and sounds that are completely unique to the arena. The bright lights, the booming speakers and the adrenaline that permeates the warm summer air serve as dogeared bookmarks for what has guided Kaely to 2019, about to pass along the coveted crown she had dreamt of wearing since the age of 15, as her year-long reign as  Miss Reno Rodeo comes to a close.


Before wearing the gilded gold and silver Miss Reno Rodeo crown became her reality, Kaely had to fight to foster her passion for horses, as no one else in her family was involved with riding.


Kaely was born and raised in Verdi, Nevada, the youngest of three, and the only girl. Her roots are heavily interwoven in the Northern Nevada community. She’s a fourth generation Nevadan, but first generation cowgirl.


“Growing up, my dad’s company always got a box at the Reno Rodeo. Going to the Rodeo was the highlight of my year, because it was the time that I got to be around the horses.”




 For the first part of her childhood, the Reno Rodeo and her aunt’s ranch in Grass Valley, California were the only places she had the opportunity to be around horses. After several years of pleading with her parents to start riding, she began lessons at the University of Nevada, Reno equestrian center. For three years, Kaely developed her riding abilities and her passion for the equine world. More than just riding skills, she learned the practice of caring for the animals. She had finally found a community of people who shared the same love for horses that she had, until the Equestrian Center closed its doors in 2009.


“I was completely devastated. That program really shaped me and when they closed the doors I felt like all of the hard work I had put in to grow as a rider was also ending.”


Instead of hanging up her hat, Kaely used the Equestrian Center’s closing as an opportunity to prove how committed she was to riding. She convinced her parents to let her get her own horse, and shortly after joined 4H to once again surround herself with girls that shared her passion.


As another year of the Reno Rodeo came and went, Kaely knew she could no longer just watch from the stands. She was working tirelessly on improving her horsemanship and began planning for the future she had been dreaming of for as long as she could remember.




“On my 15th birthday I told a close family friend that next year I was going to be on the flag team, and then I was going to be Miss Reno Rodeo.”

With the encouragement of the friends she made in 4H, she tried out and earned a position on the flag team the following year.


“The first time I rode out as a flag girl might be my favorite Rodeo memory to date. The music is blaring, your heart is pumping, the horses get all jacked up and they’re ready to take off and it’s just an incredible feeling being in the place where you feel most at home in front of all those people and being with an animal, you feel one at that moment. You’re so in sync, it’s like no other feeling in the world.”


However, her plans changed when she reached eligibility to run for Miss Reno Rodeo at the age of 18. With close to a decade of riding experience under her belt, Kaely decided she wanted to break into the amateur PRCA circuit with her horse Rainy.


“When I was 18 I wanted to start running on the amateur circuit, and when I was working with my horse she got hurt. When that happened I tried to keep a positive attitude, but the vet told me that I probably was never going to get to ride her again, let alone race with her. That broke my heart and took me a long time to get over it.  I had to regroup and started doing research on equine massage and that’s how I discovered what has since turned into my passion and my business.”


In the span of four years, Kaely built a successful and thriving equine massage business, Destiny Equine, while continuing to be involved with the rodeo. Becoming Miss Reno Rodeo was still her dream, and in typical Kaely fashion, her goals had only expanded.


In 2018, Kaely ran for Miss Reno Rodeo at the age of 21. She had just watched one of her close friends, Alex Rayppy, serve as Miss Reno Rodeo 2017 and was excited to finally accomplish the goal she had manifested over six years prior. Another goal, another hurdle: she lost Miss Reno Rodeo 2018.


“Everything happens for a reason. The Equestrian Center closing brought me my first horse and brought me to 4H, which led me to flag team and eventually guided me to Miss Reno Rodeo. Without those hurdles, I don’t think I would be where I am today.”


Kaely spent the next year growing her business, working tirelessly to perfect her riding, and setting new goals, which included winning Miss Reno Rodeo 2019, the 100th-year celebration of the Reno Rodeo.




With all of the fanfare that surrounds winning Miss Reno Rodeo, Kaely just remembers thinking back on the first cowgirl hat she bought at her very first rodeo.


“It was dalmation print with a crown attached. It really was hideous, but that hat was so special and symbolic to me. When I was crowned, time kind of stood still and I was brought back to that moment. It all felt so surreal.”


Since being crowned last June, Kaely’s life has been a whirlwind of travel, community appearances, parades and preparation for the 100th-year celebration taking place June 20-29, 2019.


“A lot of girls can’t see past the Barbie aspects of the pageant, when that is such a small piece of the puzzle. You spend a year serving as the face of the rodeo, representing the community, being the ambassador of the Wildest and Richest Rodeo in the West.”


For Kaely, the opportunity to serve as a mentor to young girls and represent her community has been the most rewarding part of her reign.


“Setbacks are a part of life. You can choose to dwell on them and let them stop you from moving forward, or you can use them as a way to grow and become a better version of yourself. I just want to encourage anyone that has a crazy dream to go all in and pursue it, because you never know what can happen if you’re willing to put in hard work and passion.”


Although Kaely will be passing along her Miss Reno Rodeo crown on the last night of the rodeo, she is not yet finished representing Northern Nevada and the Reno Rodeo.


“Once I pass along the crown I’ll start preparing for Miss Rodeo Nevada in January, and then hopefully Miss Rodeo America the following year.”


The next several weeks will be eat, sleep, rodeo for Kaely in preparation for her final ride, where she will be center stage as Miss Reno Rodeo 2019.


“I want 2019 to be the turning point for the Reno Rodeo. This event has been such a staple in the community for the past 100 years, and I want the next 100 to only bring bigger and better things. After all, it’s a big damn deal!”






Buckin Cactus Boutique - Reno, NV

Gabi and Mojo, respectively.

Gabi Madraso of Buckin Cactus Boutique was Miss Reno Rodeo 2015 and the first Miss Reno Rodeo to rope a steer and a calf at the Rodeo. She has a passion for the cowgirl lifestyle and for fashion. She believes that you shouldn’t have to break the bank to be fashionable and offers high quality, cowgirl inspired style at affordable prices. Gabi styled Miss Reno Rodeo Kaely Juzek for her Bliss Life photo shoot and has worked closely with Kaely throughout her Rodeo Queen journey. Buckin Cactus is the key sponsor for the Bliss Life Miss Reno Rodeo issue and feature reel. Many thanks to Gabi and her horse Mojo for their contributions to the Bliss Life Miss Reno Rodeo journey – we wish you much success in all you do! Please visit and support  





 Q: What does the 100th Reno Rodeo celebration mean to you?

“The 100th year celebration of Reno Rodeo to me means tradition, family, dedication, perseverance. It’s an opportunity to celebrate where we have been and a commitment to our community to continue to keep our western heritage alive and our western values at the forefront of what we do. And it’s a damn big deal!”


Q: What is your favorite Reno Rodeo memory?

 “I have so many wonderful memories from when I was Miss Reno Rodeo. The opportunity to travel with the rodeo officers (what plays on the road stays on the road) and be the tangible, approachable side of rodeo for the kids is something I will always cherish. The time my mom and I got to travel to Caldwell, ID and locked the keys in the minivan while it was still running for the duration of the rodeo was a fun experience. But perhaps the most special memory was the opportunity the ride in the arena and push cows (guide the cows from one end of the arena to the other) during a performance with my mom who was Miss Reno Rodeo 30 years before I had the opportunity to reign. “




Q: What does the 100th Reno Rodeo celebration mean to you?

 “As a Reno native,  the 100th year of Reno Rodeo and my having been part as it’s Queen 49 years ago solidifies the value of a great community that supports the tradition of western spirit and culture. The dedication and passion of Reno’s volunteers is the heartbeat of our special event.”


Q: What is your favorite Reno Rodeo memory?

 “There were so many life sustaining memories created that it is difficult to name just one. However, if I had to highlight one it would have to be the opportunity to ride Bertha, the Nugget elephant, during some promotional photo shooting sessions. In addition, as I look back nearly 50 years, the opportunity to meet and work with so many incredible people who inspired me.”




Q: What does the 100th Reno Rodeo celebration mean to you?

 “The Reno Rodeo has always held a special place in my heart, being born and raised in the Reno area, and serving as Miss Reno Rodeo 1990 was one of the best times of my life.”


Q: What is your favorite Reno Rodeo memory?

Winning the Barrel Racing Championship in 1989 and Reserve Championship in 1990 stand out to me as some of my favorite memories. I also had the opportunity to ride in the very first Reno Rodeo Cattle Drive with Miss Rodeo America 1990, Joni James, and also got to ride Lita Scott’s mare Marcy Doc in the queen contest. Her mare later went on to run the fastest time at the 1991 National Finals Rodeo with Lita!