The past two weeks have literally been a blast from the past! A couple weeks ago I headed to the college where I graduated from, Murray State University. It was college rodeo week in Murray, Kentucky and lots of events were going on that I didn’t want to miss. Wednesday was the Special Rodeo put on by the MSU Rodeo Team and current queen, Miss Shelby Wright. I arrived bright and early after a couple hour drive to start meeting and greeting my special friends getting off the bus! As the students came in, one by one, Shelby and I talked to each one and gave them an autograph. They also received cowboy hats and bandannas for the fun day ahead!
There were a total of 34 kids ready to learn about rodeo and participate in the events and activities. Several different stations were set up where the students could interact with animals and the MSU Rodeo Team members. I also went around and visited all the stations and took part in the activities with the students. We raced bouncy ponies together, ran barrels together on foot, brushed the horses, and raced to get the ribbons off the goats! There was laughter to be heard and smiles to be seen all day at the expo center!
Muray, KY has lots of great college memories for me, but the one place that I wanted to visit was a bbq place downtown. Bad Bob’s was a restaurant that I didn’t find until my last year in Murray. I became addicted to their bbq sauce and in fact, buy it by the gallon now! When the special rodeo was over, I knew where I wanted to go eat and I am sure you can guess where that was. I grabbed Shelby and said lets go to Bad Bobs! I can’t believe that she had never been there! We also met my first rodeo queen director, Dr. Bellah for lunch. I haven’t seen her in a few years so it was great to all meet up! We walked into Bob’s and I ordered my normal bbq sandwich and then told the cashier I would like to have a gallon of sauce. Every single time, I get the funniest faces from the employees! She said, “you mean you want a whole gallon of mild sauce?” Yes ma’am, I do.
Lunch was wonderful with the MSU Rodeo Queen and director! I enjoyed getting to see the two beautiful ladies, but it was time to get on the road again. I came back a couple days later for the Friday and Saturday night performances of the college rodeo. I was taken back down memory lane as I rode in for a queen lap. It was this rodeo four years ago where I held my first queen title and loped around the arena then as Miss MSU Rodeo Queen. I would have never thought back in 2013 that I would be back in a short four years later as Miss Rodeo USA. DREAMS DO COME TRUE! I am here to tell you that! Never give up and always stay focused and you can achieve anything that you set your mind too!
Both nights I gave out several autographs, helped sell raffle tickets, ran into old friends, took several pictures, and had the best time in Murray. It was wonderful to look up in the audience and see my family sitting there along with about 15 members of my church family that I haven’t seen much of this year! I have the best support system and am so thankful for that!
This past week I headed to South Georgia for the 40th Annual Sunbelt Ag Expo. This year at the expo was a special year because it was the celebration for 40 years of this event in Moultrie, Georgia. I know you’re wondering what the Sunbelt Ag Expo is. This expo is very similar to the National Farm Machinery Show that is held in Louisville, Kentucky every year. The only difference is that it is completely outside and there are lots of GNATS! For those of you that live below the gnat line, I am so very sorry for that! But really, one of the cool parts of this expo is you don’t just look at agricultural equipment; you can go out in the fields and try it out. Everything is on demo either out in the fields or in the expo itself. You can drive the cotton picker or watch how peanuts are harvested, and test out the latest tractors. There are so many things to do for the agricultural enthusiast!
My part in the expo happens to be at the Priefert Horse Arena. As a previous Sunbelt queen, last year I had the wonderful opportunity to attend for the first time and learned how things go. This year I was honored to be back and of course, see my Georgia family! My former director, Cindy Wynn was there and I just love her to pieces! I also got to see many others that make these experiences so worthwhile. Wynn Custom leather was also there so I was able to spend time with JT and of course, thank him for his sponsorship to the Miss Rodeo USA Pageant. I was introduced each morning at the arena and took part in one of Cal Middleton’s equine demonstrations.
On Tuesday morning, I had the opportunity to assist in the ribbon cutting ceremonies to officially open the expo. There were over 150 people present and media such as tv stations from Savannah and local radio stations. Along with director Chip Blalock and many others, I helped with the ribbon cutting for this special year! Shortly after the ribbon cutting it was time for the main event that takes place at the airplane hangar, the Farmer of the Year Luncheon. This luncheon may only be a couple hours, but is something that farmers across 10 states have prepared for all year long. One farmer from each state represented in the Sunbelt region is selected as Farmer of the Year. This prestigious ceremony is a great event that represents all the great things that farmers do.
While standing up front greeting the over 500 people that walked through the doors, a gentleman came up to me and asked if I was from Kentucky. Turns out, that guy was Mr. Tim Thornberry with the Kentucky Farm Bureau magazine that did an article on me earlier this year! I just never know who I am going to run into! I also met two others with him who were also from western Kentucky. As the food was served, I found my way to sit with the other queens and their families. I happened to sit down by three gentlemen who were from Savannah, Georgia. They kept me laughing the entire time! I learned that one puts on the annual IPRA Ottawa Rodeo in Bloomingdale. These gentlemen were a hoot to sit by and I enjoyed talking to them!
Wednesday was a big day for the rodeo queens. Visiting rodeo royalty came to be introduced in the morning demonstrations. Every queen wore pink for Tough Enough to Wear Pink day! I proudly wore my Maid of the West Ranch Wear pink shirt! I was able to walk around a little bit and ended up in the Georgia Farm Bureau booth where I found the Georgia Grown shirt that was unveiled at the ribbon cutting the day before. This shirt was displayed in front a sign that read “our dirt grew your shirt” and was made 100% in Georgia. It was also screen printed by an agency with Georgia Department of the Blind and I think it’s wonderful that they partnered with this project. 38,000 t-shirts were made from 56 bales of cotton from Georgia.
I can’t believe I almost forgot to tell you about my adventures on the cotton picker! While in Georgia, I knew that I needed to get the complete Georgia Grown experience! Thanks to a dear friend, the Wheeler family for taking me to their farm for a ride on the cotton picker! I hopped on the picker with their farm hand to see how the machine works. I thought it was so neat, but of course very similar to the combine that I used to ride with my granddad when I was a kid. Each cotton bale wrapped in the field weighed 6,000 pounds! That can make a lot of t-shirts!
Thursday was the last day of the expo and I woke up with intentions of trying to find the grilled PB&J that I had been hearing about for the last few days. Being as Georgia is a major producer of peanuts, they know all about what peanuts can make! After a short golf cart ride, I found the Georgia Peanut Commission booth where the grilled PB&J were. One bite and I knew I was addicted! This new recipe is now one of my favorites and one that I will carry with me forever. After my PB&J breakfast, I headed back to the arena to be introduced to the crowd before the last Cal Middleton equine demonstration. At the end of the day, it was time to say my goodbyes to all of my Georgia family. I never knew that I would have made friends that are pretty much family to me all the way down in South Georgia. As we drive away from the 40th Annual Sunbelt Ag expo, I realize how cotton pickin’ blessed I am.
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!