Hello everyone! I am Summer Weldon, the 2018 Miss Rodeo USA. I am from the small town of Martin, Tennessee, home of the University of Tennessee at Martin where I have been a member of the UTM Rodeo team and studied cell and molecular biology. However, I will be taking a year off from classes so that I may enjoy my year of travel to the fullest! I am so excited to begin this new chapter in my life as I represent the International Professional Rodeo Association. To represent this great organization has been a dream of mine ever since I was a little girl.
The week of competition was a whirlwind! I met eleven beautiful, talented, and driven ladies that were as passionate about this great sport as I am. The days were long, but the memories that were made will last a lifetime! The competition started Tuesday, January 16th, which happened to be my 20th birthday. This day was mostly a get-to-know-you day for the contestants and judges. We visited the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum and also had a sponsor photo shoot. That night we had a fun- filled pajama party at the end of the day where we played games and had a show and tell with an item we brought that meant the most to us. I brought my stuffed animal “Simba” from the movie The Lion King and told everyone how I had taken Simba on every family vacation and rodeo that I had ever been to. He will definitely be traveling with me throughout my year!
Wednesday brought the horsemanship portion of the competition. We were honored to ride the fantastic equine athletes provided by Five Star Quarter Horses! That evening we gave our platform speeches at the Centennial Rodeo Opry. Rodeo announcer, Tyler Brown, and Miss Rodeo USA 2017, Brittany Howard, did a great job keeping the crowd entertained.
On Thursday, we had our media interviews at the Wyndham and the IPRA Gold Buckle Gala at Events at West Main in Yukon Oklahoma. This day was so much fun! It was such an honor to get to see the top fifteen cowboys and cowgirls in each event receive their back numbers and jackets. I was able to visit with a few college rodeo teammates that had qualified for IFR 48. I was proud that my home state of Tennessee had so many contestants that had qualified for the finals!
Friday was our busiest day by far! We attended a reception for MRUSA 2017 Brittany Howard followed by the IPRA Ladies’ Luncheon. At the luncheon, we showcases our state shirts, but the most special part of the luncheon was meeting Jacee Beth Thomas. She and her family were so inspirational and kind. After the auction to raise money for Jacee Beth and her family, the luncheon attendees voted for their favorite state outfit. I am proud to say that my shirt was voted as crowd favorite! Next up was the Miss Rodeo USA Fashion Show at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum where we modeled two of our own outfits and two generously sponsored outfits from Southern Sass and the National Cowboy and Heritage Museum. Friday night was round one of IFR 48! We visited the trade show, watched the rodeo, and attended the IFR round one buckle presentation. We were exhausted, but it was a fun day!
Saturday morning we had our State Speech and Royalty Brunch at Remington Park. We enjoyed attending both rodeo performances of the state fair arena, followed by another buckle presentation that evening.
Sunday held my favorite event, the OG&E Children’s Rodeo! The children were able to get a taste of the western way of life and meet several rodeo contestants. During the fourth rodeo performance the crowning of Miss Rodeo USA occurred after breakaway roping. I can’t tell how nervous and excited I was when I stepped onto the arena floor. As all of the contestants stood side by side in front of the huge crowd, I knew that if I didn’t win, I couldn’t wait to come back next year. As they called out the top five placings, I thought my heart was going to beat out of my chest! When they announced me as the new Miss Rodeo USA, I couldn’t believe it. My dream had finally come true! Tears were streaming down my face as I made my first lap as queen. It was a moment that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Congratulations to Jolye Durrett, Sara Weekes, Heather Morrison, and Heather Bundy on their top five finish! All of the contestants are truly wonderful ladies and I have made friendships that will last a lifetime.
The first few days as Miss Rodeo USA have been so much fun! I have already had a sponsor photoshoot with the wonderful Sherry Smith and have received many calls and messages from several of the fantastic sponsors of the Miss Rodeo USA organization. I can’t wait to see where this journey takes me and I hope you will follow along for the ride!
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