January 15th, 2017 A day to remember in the history of the Miss Rodeo USA Pageant. It was on that day that I was blessed to bring home the Miss Rodeo USA crown to the bluegrass state of Kentucky for the first time in the 51 years of the pageant! Although I am from the wildcat state, I made my way to the pageant as a representative of the Sunbelt Ag Expo and Miss Sunbelt Rodeo Queen. I feel honored to have been selected to represent not only Kentucky and Georgia, but the International Professional Rodeo Association!
A recap on pageant week and the moments leading up to the coronation include a week long rigorous routine of early morning interviews, horsemanship competition, speech dinners, modeling events, and performances of the IFR 47. It was nothing short of amazing and time well spent with the 11 other contestants, and now life-long friends! We bonded over playing go-fish in between interviews, having midnight ice-cream parties complete with charades, and racing to finish our room swaps during the week! By the time the week was coming to an end, I knew that if the crown wasn’t placed on my hat, that any one of the other contestants would also do an outstanding job as queen. It was the positivity and encouragement given by the group of ladies that kept us all going and striving to do better. But when the time came for the coronation, we all held hands, bowed our heads, and prayed to the good Lord above for the friendships He has blessed us with and the opportunity of a lifetime.
When my name was called as the new 2017 Miss Rodeo USA, there are no words to describe the feeling that comes over you. All I could do was proudly step out and wave to all the fans gathered in the arena for the IFR. Smiling from ear to ear, the coveted crown was placed on my hat and the banner was pinned to my shirt. I placed my foot in the stirrup of my Paint horse and tried not to let my heart skip a beat as I excitedly took my first lap as Miss Rodeo USA!
I didn’t even make it off my horse yet before the media interviews had started! Questions like how do you feel as the new Miss Rodeo USA and who would you like to thank rang through the air. While trying to remember to breathe, my answers were recorded on Facebook Live and will remain a memory for me forever. As I dismounted, I posed for a picture in front of the Gateway of Champions realizing I was now considered a world champion!
I was quickly swept off to thank sponsors and take photos with people and businesses that support the pageant. When I turned around after taking a photo with Twister Saddles, there was my mom walking down the steps toward me. A moment I will never forget. Time stood still as I ran towards her and gave her the biggest hug ever and we both shared in my excitement.
After leaving the arena, I made my way back to the Wyndham Garden Hotel for the pageant awards ceremony. I walked in and as all eyes and ears looked my way, was introduced as Miss Rodeo USA! Even at this point, it is still hard for me to wrap my head around what just happened! Awards were given and goodbyes were said to the other contestants. We shared a week of fun memories and every lady worked so hard to be there and give it their all.
My first official Miss Rodeo USA appearance was shortly after at the Gold Buckle Presentation ceremony. I was privileged to help hand out awards to the winners of the IFR and meet many of the faces that I will be spending my year with.
The first few days following the coronation flew by as I learned the ropes. I spent some time going over important documents, taking photo shoots, and communicating with those who would be a major part of my year. I was able to head back to Kentucky for a few days to pay a visit to the Mayor of my hometown, speak with sponsors, and plan my coronation ceremony.
I am so excited to get my year started and can’t wait to travel and represent the IPRA. I remind myself daily that hard work pays off, focus on your dreams and you WILL achieve them, and never settle for less. These little pieces of advice are what brought me here and led me to accomplish my dreams. Who would have thought that I would be writing my first blog as Miss Rodeo USA 2017? I sure didn’t, but know that it was the support of my parents, family, friends, coaches and committee that encouraged me to keep going, stay focused, and never give up. Thanks to all those who have influenced my life and I can’t wait to share my journey with you as Miss Rodeo USA 2017!