I’ve logged 2,000 miles in the last two weeks and that’s slowing down a little bit. After the local Veteran’s Day Parade I headed to Lincoln, Arkansas to visit Sherry Smith, the official photographer of Miss Rodeo USA. I arrived on a Wednesday evening after a short 9 hour drive. I only took one wrong turn, but ended up on the Arkansas backroads for about 75 miles. Believe me, I won’t miss that turn again!
Thursday morning we had our final shoot for my reign. That is so crazy to say because I feel like the first was just yesterday! It was bitter cold and bitter sweet. A chilly 40 degrees it was in an old mill where we spent four hours shooting the final sponsored items. My stuff was everywhere and we made it through the cold weather, but not without me letting Sherry know it was cold every few minutes! I know I looked at the thermostat (the mill had been turned into an event center) and it had warmed up to 46 degrees. Sherry did a wonderful job and we had a great final photo shoot!
Afterwards, I headed to Pauls Valley, Oklahoma which was an additional four hours away. No wrong turns were taken this time thankfully! I got settled in for the night and prepared my clothing for a busy Friday in Oklahoma City. Donnie and I headed to the city lights to visit several pageant sponsors. I visited each restaurant sponsor to confirm that the pageant contestants will be eating there in a few short weeks away. Our last restaurant sponsor that we visited just happened to be Charleston’s. We did that on purpose so that we could eat there! We also visited Remington Park where one of our pageant events will be held. It was nice to meet some of the faces that I have been talking to all year!
The following day I was up bright and early to head to Lindsey, OK for the first annual Veteran’s Day Parade and a photo shoot with Jenny. The photos came first and I met Jenny at an adorable country location not far out of town. It was still chilly outside, but not as cold as the last photo shoot with Sherry! We spent about 45 minutes outside and then headed onto the parade. I met our wonderful horse sponsor of 5 Star Quarter Horses where they brought me Cody to ride in the parade. They helped me get my parade ensemble together. The parade started and off I went waving to the crowd. I got to the bulk of where the crowd was and the pavement turned to the brick. My horse didn’t seem to pay attention to the fire truck and police cars sounding off, the mass of people standing everywhere, music playing loud, or even the kids running in the streets, but she DID notice the change in pavement and that was just too much! Cody stopped right there and it took a little patience, motivation, and a staring crowd to get us over to the other side, aka the brick road! The whole town and maybe even the neighboring towns showed up for the parade festivities to honor the Veterans. At the end of the parade the float carrying the local Veterans came by and there was a special program put together for them. It was wonderful to take part in such a great event to honor those who have fought and who are still fighting for our freedom!
Later that evening I visited DJ and Trish and got to ride one of their horses. I enjoyed having a little saddle time and getting to hang out with them! I packed that evening and got ready to head out first thing in the morning back to Kentucky. I arrived home on Sunday and didn’t even have time to unpack before I left Wednesday to Lexington. It was great to be heading to a rodeo in my home state! The All-Region Finals took place this past weekend at Alltech Arena in Lexington. I met up with a sweet lady named Esther who took me around to visit sponsors starting on Thursday. I met her at the Kentucky Horse Park and we kicked off promoting the Bluegrass Rockin’ Rodeo with a radio interview. We had some time to kill and Esther took me around on a golf cart tour of the park. She showed me the Mounted Police barn, the Barn of Fame (as I call it), and a ride around the where the 2010 Equine Olympics were held. At the barn that housed the famous race horses, I met Go for Gin. Gin is a 1994 Kentucy Derby Winner who loved me so much that when I reached out to pet him, he sunk his teeth into my leather IFR jacket! It was so tasty he didn’t let go of that and my arm for about 30 seconds! The little monkey he was! Funny Cide was also in the barn, but I didn’t get an up close and personal greeting like I did from Go for Gin!
We moved on to visit the Bluegrass Stockyards that just opened from remodeling only a two weeks prior to our visit. I got to see the sale barn and promote the rodeo to visitors inside the shops. There is nothing like local Kentucky food so of course, we had to eat at Hayden’s Stockyard Eatery. Only in the bluegrass state where you can find fried chicken on a biscuit with jalapeño pimento cheese!
Our next rodeo promotion event was a table at the Southern Lights 5K stroll! Over 2,300 people showed up for this annual event! I passed out rodeo flyers and signed autographs at a table with the horse park. Next on our busy schedule was a live interview at Alltech arena for ABC 36 news on the Midday Kentucky Show! This was so exciting because we had a whole hour to feature the rodeo. JW Ery, Colt Hartt the rodeo clown, Walker Montgomery, and myself was featured on the show. I was honored to carry the American flag and have an interview on horseback. This was such a fun way to promote our IPRA All-Region Finals!
The first performance of our finals went great! The crowd was a little light due to the UK game because we all bleed blue in Kentucky! Go Cats! But that didn’t stop us from having a great time! Saturday morning I was able to visit the farm where Secretariat is buried at. Clairborne farm is located in Paris, Ky and is the home of the famous racehorse Secretariat. Lindsey, our IPRA social media person, attended with me and we had a blast! We got to see the original paddock where Secretariat was turned out in and his stall! There were several other great racehorses there such as War Front. He is estimated to be worth $80 million and his breeding fee is $250,000. I was just excited that I got to touch him and give him a peppermint! I also got to see the grave of Secretariat and learned all kinds of interesting facts about him! It was a great experience that I will always remember!
Off to an Ariat appearance we went! Thanks to the wonderful Lindsey for setting up a meet and greet at one of only 2 stand alone Ariat stores in the US. Laura and her Ariat team welcomed JW, Cody, and myself for an afternoon of rodeo promotions! There were lots of traffic into the store and we were all privileged to inform the public about the rodeo going on. I really appreciated the kindness of the team and sponsored apparel that they gave us!
Lindsey and I rushed back to the hotel to get ready for the rodeo. It was starting to rain, but thank goodness Alltech is a beautiful indoor arena. It was a steady rain so I grabbed my chaps and rushed into the arena. I had parked in the back along with all the other contestants. I ran in and signed autographs for a while and while doing so, I heard an announcement from Mark. “There is a white car with Kentucky tags that needs to be moved out the back.” I thought Oh, darn, that’s me! I rushed to the back knowing that we all had parked in the fire lane. I turned the corner to see blue lights behind my car. I ran out there and told the officer that I would be glad to move my car! I moved it in the nick of time because he had his ticketing pad and pen out ready to give me a ticket! I skipped out on that one and found many other contestants trying to find elsewhere to park.
My favorite part of the rodeo has always been getting to carry Old Glory. Hedrick Rodeo Company has the most beautiful flag that I had the honor of carrying around the arena. The arena was packed and I took note of all the proud Americans as I carried the flag around the arena. This was the final night where the buckles would be handed out. Thank you to Montana Silversmith for sponsoring the beautiful buckles for the contestants! At the end of the rodeo, the best of the best was representing across all of the IPRA regions. The top 2 of each region came to the finals. Not only was the best contestants there, but the horse park had outstanding musicians contracted for a concert after the rodeo. Friday night was Walker Montgomery, son of John Michael Montgomery. Saturday night was Walker Hayes. Both artists did an awesome job and the crowd loved it! I also liked the fact that I got to meet them both!
Overall, I had a wonderful past two weeks and enjoyed all the new experiences! I am so thankful for the new friends that God has placed in my life. The year may be about over, but I know I will still encounter many more wonderful people and places! Happy Thanksgiving!
Miss Rodeo USA
Follow the adventures of Miss Rodeo USA 2017 Brittany Howard as she travels the country representing the IPRA. Check back often for updates and new blogs!