I’m in the calm before the storm. The past few weeks haven’t been crazy (believe it or not!) like the rest of life has been! I have been able to enjoy some time at home the past two weekends. I booked a few additional appearances in my surrounding area of my hometown. The first was with Lonestar Rodeo Company, which is based out of Crofton, Kentucky. Crofton is right down the road from me and what an honor is was for me to appear at their Greenville, Kentucky rodeo March 10th and 11th. This particular rodeo is one I remember going to in my mid-teens. It’s about the only rodeo for the community to come and watch in my area.
Flashback to January for a minute: I remember when I was crowned and my committee told me to go back to my hometown rodeo and start getting the word out. My parents were standing there with me when the look on my face turned to intense thinking. I said, “we don’t have a hometown rodeo and there isn’t anything in my town.” My dad piped up and commented with, “yeah, we don’t have a rodeo, but we do have a bunch of clowns!” My dad might just be the clown with his always funny remarks! Hopefully more funny stories from dad are coming to entertain y’all! Okay, so back to Lonestar! I participated in grand entry at their rodeo and loved getting to see many members of my community, family, and friends come to see a great rodeo. Helping with the kid events are always fun and full of pictures! Overall, I had a great time at the rodeo and would like to thank the Lonestar Rodeo Company for allowing me to appear!
I have been working with a local elementary school on finding the perfect time to visit their students. I surprised their students on Career Day! Third, fourth, and fifth graders gathered for visiting different tables set up representing many different career choices that they could choose in life. My table as Miss Rodeo USA was so much fun! Talking to the students about how promoting rodeo, riding horses, and encouraging others to stay focused and chase their dreams is my career for this year! As part of my discussion with the students, I asked one 9 year old little boy “how do you achieve your dreams?” He calmly answered with, “you pray to God so that He can help you achieve your dreams.” I took a minute and just paused. His answer was so powerful and something that the world needs to hear more of. I have always been raised in church and I thank my parents for that. To hear this coming from a student, reminded me that there is good in this world and that I am thankful to have been a part of his day! Thanks Southside Elementary School for allowing me to help your students stay focused on whatever their dreams are in life!
I have a cousin in 2nd grade who has wanted me to come visit her class. During my break time at home, I visited her school, Sebree Elementary. After talking to the students, a fellow classmate turned to my cousin and excitedly said, ”you know her?” I do believe my cousin was proud to claim me that day! As always, anytime I am at a school, I always try to coordinate a visit to the special needs classrooms. I met a few special young ladies that were excited to share stories with me. The teacher asked one child to tell me what made her special. She pointed to her heart and said, “I have a new heart.” Here was another special moment that touched my heart!
After seeing a post on Facebook that our very own past Miss Rodeo USA, Trisha Shields, was coming to Kentucky for a horsemanship clinic, I decided to take the opportunity and come visit! I awoke at 2:30 AM to make the drive to La Grange, Kentucky with my horse Fancy in the trailer. Trisha conducts horsemanship clinics the day before Fallon Taylor does her barrel racing clinics. After attending her clinic, I knew exactly why she does this! Trisha is AMAZING at what she does! She helps other to learn basic skills that are very important before and after stepping on their horse. After sitting in on the clinic, I see why it is important to take part in Trisha’s clinic and continue her training into the next clinic. My horse Fancy thought she was in retirement since I have been on the road a lot, little did she know we were going to have fun with Trisha! Fancy is 21 years young and has been the one who taught me how to ride and barrel race years ago. I am grateful that we got to make more memories together!
By now, we all know my platform of staying focused. I love that Trisha encouraged her students with staying focused as it relates to becoming a better rider, teacher, and athlete. Trisha has so many neat tactics on how to educate others that I encourage you all to be at her next clinic! And the next day you can participate in Fallon Taylor’s barrel racing clinic! There is a world of knowledge out there and I am always willing to learn. Take advantage of every opportunity given to you and make the most of it!
Dallas Market is coming up soon and I am so excited to meet and talk to many amazing sponsors that give their time, money, and items to make the Miss Rodeo USA Association successful. I will be preparing this week for figuring out how to pack for two weeks like a pro! I am sure I will include cookies in my carry on along with cheese sticks in my COOLER POCKET of my new bag! Stay tuned to see what an amazing sponsor has done for me!
Another whirlwind of two weeks has gone by and what a busy time I have had!! I know it is only going to get more intense, but I seriously can’t wait!! At this point, I absolutely love my job and the experiences and opportunities that it has brought me thus far. I have met so many amazing people and friends for life!
On February 23rd I headed south to Columbiana, Alabama for my first rodeo as Miss Rodeo USA! The rodeo was put on by the Shelby County Cattlemen’s Association and I met all the wonderful people that work so hard to put on a great show and give back to the community. President Clifton Garrett and I took part in a couple radio interviews bright and early on Friday morning. We enjoyed spreading the word of the rodeo coming to town and enlightening others of events happening in their community. We then visited many sponsors of the rodeo, gave away free tickets at Steak and Shake, and ate lunch at Jim and Nicks.
It was an honor to visit Kingwood Christian School to promote the rodeo and for me to spread the importance of my platform. The students we SO excited and loved hearing about rodeo and the Shelby County Cattlemen’s Association. I also encouraged students to stay focused so that they can achieve their goals, and ultimately their dreams.
Thanks to Ken and Pam Treadway for use of their beautiful horses for the performances of both nights! I carried the flag for the first time as Miss Rodeo USA and what an honor it was! For the rest of the rodeo performance, I ran sponsor flags and signed autographs at the end. Saturday the Shelby County Cattlemen’s Association held a Special Rodeo for all the special needs children of the community. It was their first experience with this type of event, and WOW, they did a wonderful job! I helped with the fitting of cowboy hats, farm animal petting zoo, and interacting with the children. A big thank you to Clifton and Ritcha Garett for all their hard work and the rest of the team! So many children’s lives were impacted for the better and I am very thankful I had the opportunity to be a part of their special day.
The other major appearance that I have had in the past few weeks, was with Ariat. I departed Nashville on this past Friday to head to Dallas, Texas to help promote Ariat and the largest Atwoods store opening. By the way, this was basically my first time flying commercially and I’m just glad I made it there and back! After my arrival into Dallas, Jeri and I headed to the NRS Ranch in Decatur. They have such a beautiful place complete with the NRS store on site! I literally could have spent hours in there, but only had a little time. They carry a large supply of Ariat apparel and footwear along with anything else you could ever need! If you are ever in the area, you should for sure check it out!
After staying in the bunkhouse located at the NRS Ranch, we headed to the Atwoods store opening. I signed autographs and helped to promote Ariat all day and met so many people. During the time I was there, I bet there was at least 1,500 people walk through the doors! Once again, they carry most everything that Ariat has to offer! I only wish we had an Atwoods farm and ranch store in Kentucky!
I had a few hours of downtime before my flight left the next day. Upon entering the hotel, I heard lots of music and began noticing that there was a pageant going on. Thanks to a really nice staff lady of the pageant, I was able to get in to watch the competition! The girls all did fabulous and I loved their confidence! Later on, I met this young girl who aspired to be a rodeo queen and couldn’t wait to become more involved. It was a blessing to meet this young lady and encourage her to chase her dreams by staying focused on her goals! My message is exactly what I did and I strongly believe others can do the same to reach whatever their goals and dreams may be.
I managed to make it back to the airport and fly back home to Nashville. Since this was my first experience, I took lots of pictures, held on tight to my bag as we departed the runway, and enjoyed the cookie snacks on the flight. In a couple weeks, I head back to Texas and will for sure be a better packer and know the routine. Thanks to the Ariat team for all of their hard work and for their support in Miss Rodeo USA.
The traveling has officially begun! I am so excited for all the adventures that this year is going to bring! After my coronation ceremony, I immediately began setting up plans for the following weekend. I left Kentucky on a Thursday and headed to Arkansas to spend a day with the one and only, Sherry Smith! Upon arrival, I quickly hurried and got ready to take the perfect picture. Which so happened to be on a windy hill, overlooking a beautiful lake, with the sun setting perfectly in the background, in 24 degree weather, and smiling like it was sunny and 75! Arkansas was beautiful and so are Sherry’s photography skills! She worked hard in the cold weather to make sure the photo was perfect, and it was!
Friday arrived and we were ready for another photo shoot! This one in particular was taken to highlight the sponsorship of Ariat, Horsemanship sponsors, and a few others that have so generously donated their time and funds to the Miss Rodeo USA Association. I loved the clothing provided by Ariat that keeps me ready to work and comfortable at the same time. We had the opportunity to use a couple horses in the photos, along with tack that I am so thankful to have won. Without the support of sponsors such as the Woods Family, Ariat, Smneek Family, American Hat Company, Sherry Smith Photography, and many others, I know the association would not be what it is today. Thanks to you all for all that you do and have done for many queens before me.
My time in Arkansas was over and I headed West to Oklahoma! It had been almost a month since I had crossed the Oklahoma state line and I was so excited to travel back! Now most of my friends know that I have a terrible sense of direction would never believe this, but I made it to my director’s house, Jamie, the first time without calling for help! Yes, I know, its hard to believe! By the time this year is up, I will be better at road directions than flying navigations! The following day, Saturday, brought me to another amazing photo shoot with Jenny’s Pics. Talk about having some fun, we drove around to different places in Lindsay, Oklahoma to find the perfect background before the sun set. We made it to a farm where I learned it wasn’t simple to cross cattle crossings in heels, and that the three minute rule in the pageant for changing outfits, was legit. We moved downtown to capture the historic brick walls of Lindsay and had one more stop to make before our session was done.
The airport. The night before an idea had crossed my mind, I wanted to take a picture standing in the middle of a runway with the sun setting behind me. Pretty random, right? For those that don’t know my aviation history, here’s the scoop. I started flying with my dad at a young age. It was our family tradition of going out on Sunday afternoons to the airport to take a flight around the patch, as we call it. At 16, I became a student pilot and started taking lessons from instructors to obtain my Private Pilot’s License. Although I am still considered a student pilot (because I put my education as first priority), I have many memories of heading to the airport to fly with my Dad. Eventually I soloed before I turned 18 and have been flying ever since. My plan is to finish my pilot’s license after my Miss Rodeo USA reign ends. So going to the airport was nothing strange to me. In fact, I knew we could just walk out stand on the runway, listen for planes, and take photos. Jamie and Jenny, not so much for them! After some “believe me, it’s okay, just run when you hear an airplane” jokingly pep talk, we made it out just fine and managed to snap a few of the coolest photos you will ever see!
I spent another few days in Oklahoma before heading to back to the bluegrass state of Kentucky. Just last week, I made an appearance at the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, Kentucky. Rodeo and agriculture go hand in hand and it seemed fitting to visit the largest farm show in the United States. I talked to many different agriculture professionals about what Miss Rodeo USA is and how I am not only the face of IPRA, but of agriculture as well.
My next appearance took me to Cullman, Alabama where I was honored to be asked to be a part of the judging team for the Miss West Point Rodeo Queen Pageant. I spent the day with Dodie Rogers, the daughter of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, along with Travis Owen, a professional bull rider of 15 years. It was such an experience to have the opportunity to meet them both and have a part in choosing the next advocate to represent the sport in which we love, rodeo.
There is never a dull moment in the life of Miss Rodeo USA and I look forward to every memory that is yet to come! Thanks again to all the dedicated supporters and sponsors of the Miss Rodeo USA Association!
I cannot believe that is has been two weeks already since I started my journey as Miss Rodeo USA! Time is flying by and I know this year will too! Since coronation in Oklahoma City, I was able to come home and start preparing for my Coronation Fundraiser. It has been crazy (fun) around here visiting people, places, and sponsors. One of the first things I did when I arrived back home, was take some time to go visit the Mayor of Madisonville, Kentucky. I also made other stops to visit the Judge Executive, local sponsors, and met as many people as I could!
Coming from a non-rodeo town, it has been exciting to tell everyone what Miss Rodeo USA is. What better way to do that than do school visits?! I have had so much fun visiting schools and watching the students walk in to find someone standing there in a hat and “pretty jewelry” as they call it! To watch their faces light up and eyes fill with excitement has truly been a blessing to me. I’m learning that the community, students, and little children love to hear about all aspects of rodeo and it is amazing to be a role model for them. As part of my school visits, I like to give a little insight to what happens in a rodeo. I encourage students to get involved by asking questions, participating in the pony races, and voicing what they focus on and aspire to become.
In the past two weeks, I have also attended community meetings, dived further into becoming more involved with my community, and worked to plan my coronation fundraiser. It was just last night, February 4th, that my ceremony was held. First of all, thanks to all my sponsors, family, and friends for helping to make this event happen and be successful. In attendance, there were 120 supporters there to participate in the evening fun. A meal was provided by the amazing Brother’s BBQ of Madisonville, and entertainment was by Chris Knight! Knight is also from my little town of Slaughters, Ky and it was great to have him provide the music for the evening. After the music, we had a little live auction fun and auctioned off some wonderful cakes and desserts! Most were donated by Sissy’s Café which was voted best dessert in town! Overall, the evening was wonderful and I am so thankful for the support that everyone has showed me.
As for the future, I am already planning to head back to Oklahoma this week and couldn’t be more excited to meet sponsors and have a little fun doing photo shoots! This journey has just begun and I can’t wait to make the most of it representing the IPRA!