I went from hanging with the Okies in Oklahoma to the Arkies in Arkansas! I spent a weekend in Pryor, Oklahoma at the 4-Way IPRA Rodeo and then traveled on to Huntsville, Arkansas for the 23rd Annual Madison Co. IPRA Rodeo.
Traditions are something I see at most rodeos and that was no exception at the 4-Way Rodeo. The first night they held bouncy horse races, where four spectators would race around a cone and back on an inflatable horse. The first one to cross the line won $50 and then a subsequential amount after that for the following places. After watching it, I knew I had to get a piece of the action. Later that evening I was asked to compete the following night. As you all know, I am always in it to win it and I was ready to bring the heat. As night two rolls around, I have to hustle to put my horse up and take my spurs off to get ready to bounce! It was a close race but I came in 2nd with a $25 prize! This activity was totally worth it.
While in Pryor, I was lucky enough to spend some time with Dale Yerigan, the General Manager of the International Professional Rodeo Association. It was interesting to pick his brain about what the rest of this year will look like for the IPRA. As we all know, rodeo has taken quite a hit this year with the majority of rodeos being cancelled. Dale and I both are optimistic about what the International Finals Rodeo will look like in January at the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Oklahoma. In these uncharted waters all we can do is continue to look to the future and plan the best we can.
It was a short week between Pryor and Huntsville, and it was fun to be back with the same crew. Hampton Rodeo Company provided stock for both of these rodeos which usually means working with the same announcer, pickup men, and bullfighters. It definitely makes for an easy transition from one rodeo to the next because it’s all the same folks! I have enjoyed getting to know and grow my rodeo family this year! The friends I’ve made through rodeo will always be some of the best!
The first night in Huntsville was pretty eventful as I was caught off guard by a guinea pig and a squirrel! Before Thursday night slack, I was preparing by checking on my mount for the evening, gathering up my chaps, and fetching the American Flag when I had to take a second glance at a ball of fluff in the arms of a young girl. Once I finally figured out what she had, which was a guinea pig, I got a pretty good chuckle out of a sight I had never seen at a rodeo before! That night obviously one strange critter wasn’t enough. I was watching team roping and noticed a squirrel climb up the electrical pole and start to lose its grip. It then proceeded to go soaring on to the arena floor. The poor thing looked a bit stunned and scurried across to the other side. A few of the bystanders noticed what I saw and we were all just as shocked. Again, we all got good laugh out of an unfamiliar visitor to the rodeo arena.
While in Huntsville, I got to attend my first parade of the year! I came ready for the occasion with my Hoofie wraps, flower bouquet, and Gypsy Tail mane feathers! Parades are such a fun time to really get decorated up. That morning I turned a plain palomino horse into a sparkly and colorful piece of art! He really looked great and didn’t seem to mind all the pampering. We sported a patriotic themed ensemble as we carried the American Flag through the streets of Huntsville. The best highlight in the last couple weeks was that my sister got to come down to attend the parade and rodeo on Saturday night in Huntsville! She is currently living in Arkansas and it was just too close for her not to show up. I find it amazing how much your spirits rise when you’re around your family, especially when you don’t get to see them all the time. I am so thankful I got to spend time with my one and only favorite sister!
Miss Rodeo USA 2020
Brooke’s Bloopers: It was bound to happen at some point this year and I hear that Huntsville apparently has a curse for the rodeo queen. As equestrians, we know it’s not a matter of if but when we might hit the dirt and it was my turn! During the grand entry I was on a horse I have ridden multiple times this year, including the night before for the slack performance and he was great. He was very agile, responsive, fun to ride, and honestly one of my favorites this year up until Friday night. Before the rodeo, it poured down rain for about 20 minutes making the arena a muddy mess. Who really knows why this sorrel got a wild streak but he did and sent me straight to the dirt after I hung on for a few seconds but could not quite recover. The only thing I could do was get back on and reenter for the remainder of the opening ceremonies. When things like this happen I can’t help but wonder why they even hired a clown because frankly I provided all of the entertainment Friday night!
Queens Corner: Take advantage of the opportunities that arise when you are on the road traveling. While in Arkansas, my host family offered to take me riding at their arena. We saddled up and I got to ride a half draft horse named Grace. The owner was taking all the extras off the saddle and I stopped him and said to leave the rope, I might want to swing it around some. While we were riding, he brings out the roping dummy sled and starts dragging it around for me and I go for it and caught about three times within a good 10 tries. We stopped there because it was getting dark. I then proceeded to tell him I’d never roped behind a sled like that. He was shocked! This goes to show you that you never know what you can do until you give yourself an opportunity to try it! I could’ve easily said that I didn’t know how to and not have roped but instead I took the courage I had and made it happen. Don’t be afraid to try something new, you might surprise yourself!
Typically the couple weeks surrounding the 4th of July are considered the richest weeks of rodeo. Therefore, this time is commonly called Cowboy Christmas because contestants have a chance to rake in the money by competing at multiple, big money rodeos in a short amount of time. This year definitely didn’t set any records on how much money was up for grabs but at least we had rodeos to attend! I traveled from Canadian, Texas to Moline, Kansas for the 4th of July. The following weekend I stayed in my home state and attended the Fort Scott, Kansas rodeo. It felt good to be headed from one rodeo to the next especially during the most patriotic time of year!
While starting out in Texas, part of me felt like I was in Canada when referring the Canadian rodeo in Texas. This was a quick one performance stop as I was headed back from Amarillo, Texas and Canadian was right on the way. Without hesitation I added it to my schedule to stop there on the 2nd of July. I was excited for this rodeo not only to break up the drive back to Kansas but also because I’m good friends with the stock contractor which was the Medicine River Rodeo Company! I have spent many hours at rodeos with this crew and it was just as fun as I remembered.
I finished out the holiday weekend in Moline, Kansas with Big Horn Rodeo. The best part of working with them is the two little girls that come along to each rodeo. Liz is the stock contractor’s daughter and Annika is one of their pickup men’s daughters. We laugh, play, and just enjoy life. They make me forget about how hot it might be or how late it is after slack. I sometimes can’t always answer all the “but why” questions that any typical 4 and 6 year old have but I sure do get a kick out of them!
Moving forward to Fort Scott, I ended up riding quite a few different horses in just one performance! For perspective, I typically ride one to two different horses in a weekend. So it was very comical by the end of the first night when I had swung my leg over four different mounts between the performance and slack! My favorite equine athlete of the weekend was a retired bucking horse who was now used as a pickup horse to clear the arena after rough stock events. He was calm and easy going but was big and could tow a bull right out of the arena if needed.
I stuck around in the Sunflower State for one more rodeo and went the following Tuesday and Wednesday to an IPRA rodeo in Erie, Kansas. I felt like the red carpet was laid out for me as I arrived in this small town. Everyone was so willing to say hello and help me with whatever I needed. Committees at each event work hard all year to put on their hometown rodeo and they do it for the same reason that I do! It’s for the sport and community we love. The friendships and family you make along the way make up for all the hard work and sweat, especially in the dead of summer with no breeze in Kansas. I was back with Big Horn Rodeo Company this rodeo which meant more time with Liz and Annika. This week the girls really wanted to start carrying flags in the grand entry. I got them hooked up with flag boots and they both successfully carried flags! I was so proud of them both for trying something new.
The best part about spending time at rodeos in the state of Kansas is the friends and family that get to come out and see me in action! I can’t quite put into words how much it means to see those special people sitting in the stands with a familiar smile on their faces as I ride by. It seriously means the world to me and I sure hope they know!
Miss Rodeo USA 2020
Brooke’s Bloopers: I have been asked to sign a number of items throughout the years like boots, hats, and t-shirts. When walking through the crowd in Moline, Kansas a group of kids asked me if I had the letter “O” in my name and I of course said yes and that my name was Brooke. The next thing I knew one of then asked me to sign my name on their stomach using their belly button as one of the “O” in my name. I definitely was caught off guard but figured it didn’t hurt anything and agreed to it. They of course couldn’t believe I agreed and I could tell they got quite a kick out of it. After a number of laughs, I bid them goodbye and couldn’t help but shake my head as I giggled while walking away.
Queens Corner: One helpful trick I picked up while being a rodeo queen over the last six years is to wear compression socks when I know I will be on my feet most of the day. I couldn’t believe how much it helped my aching feet by the end of the night. The other great benefit is that my socks don’t fall down and I don’t have to work about getting rub marks on my legs after hours on horse for performances and slack.
I’m not completely oblivious to the fact that clay can make dirt different shades in addition to brown. I have seen red dirt in Oklahoma, but to my surprise when I pulled up to Marion, Alabama rodeo arena, I was in awe because the dirt was orange. Straight up orange!
The 25th Annual Marion Rodeo was definitely one for the books. I was so impressed with all the fun and interactive events that were held during the rodeo in addition to the traditional events you typically see. This committee definitely puts on this rodeo for the crowd! Before the opening ceremonies, they had a Mardi Gras parade for all the kids. They piled into the back of a truck and threw beads to the audience as they were caravanned around the arena. At first, I was thinking what is going on? After seeing all the enjoyment from the crowd and children, I totally understood why it is a tradition in this small town.
Marion put on a very moving national anthem, with a flag held open on a fire truck in the middle of the arena. It’s interesting to see each unique flag presentation while traveling and working with different committees. I was honored to then lead the grand entry with all the contestants filing in behind for both nights after the presentation of the colors. The next thing I knew we were dragging tarps out into the arena as the announcer was inviting kids nine and under to come in for a gold rush. The kids could come out and dig through the hay for prizes. After 60 seconds of digging the fun was moved out behind the bleachers for the kids to find every last penny in the pile of hay. We watched kids play for the entire rodeo. It’s amazing the simple things in life every kid can’t get enough of.
Along with all the events, the West Point Royalty and I also helped with the calf scramble, adult cow scramble, steer dressing and mutton busting. By the end of the evening, it was very apparent that this small town rodeo was a highlight of the year with local contestants and trucks backed up to the arena for extra seating. I had many great conversations with local fans and even ran into Miss Rodeo USA 2013, Miss Lauren (Terry) Wilson! She was competing in the barrel racing Friday night of the weekend. Ironically enough, I had just stayed with her parents on my way to this rodeo. It was great to swap a few stories and enjoy the presence of someone who has been in your shoes before. After a few encouraging words from a former title holder we were both on our way with our duties for the evening.
As I look back on my first time in Alabama, I can’t help but chuckle a little. I had an unforgettable time and made many new memories. During my visit to Alabama I had to get a mare and foal back into their pen in high heeled booties and skinny jeans, wait to cross the road because of a momma skunk and her baby, and ask for multiple people to repeat themselves a handful of times because I’m not used to that Southern drawl. It’s the little things when you’re off on an adventure that you remember the most, like when the rodeo clown has to fire you the second performance. Don’t worry that story made the bloopers section this time.
Miss Rodeo USA 2020
Brooke’s Bloopers: Bottom line I messed up a clown act. Here’s the back story… I will always volunteer to help with anything and everything I can at a rodeo even if that means to be the punch line of the clown’s joke. I’m definitely not a stranger to acting a part in front of a crowd. My job was to walk out into the arena and pick up a small horse whip as the clown thinks I’m his significant other. He then gets closer to me, says another joke then I pretend to hit him and storm off because I’m not his significant other. Well I came out into the arena too early so the clown sent me back out making a joke about missing the cue and that he would tell me when to come out. All in all, it was still funny and we joked about it later. I’m going to blame my mess up on all the thick accents down in Alabama.
Queens Corner: We as rodeo ambassadors always try to put our best foot forward. We continue to represent the sport we love regardless of the absence of accolades received in return. That’s not why we do choose to do it in the first place. It’s important to remember that you are making more of an impact than you realize and it takes that one person every once in a while that reaches out to you to remember why we do what we do. My advice to all the rodeo queens out there this week is to continue to push forward and always be the best you can be in any situation because you never know when that nice little compliment will be in your inbox. Let me tell you what, it is worth it and makes doing our job even more satisfying.
A phone call came in mid-week from Tony with Rockin K Rodeo Productions asking if I would like to attend their rodeo in Shelbyville, TN. I stuttered a little because it was just a couple days away and I was in Kansas. I told him, yes of course, I’ll be there! Getting off the phone, I went into a little of a panic because prior to this phone call I wasn’t going to be on the road until the following Thursday. I had a truck to pack, my horses to take elsewhere, and coordination of places to stay in between rodeos. All of that was on my to-do list. As soon as I got off the phone, I got to work and was on the road a mere 36 hours later. Making the 12 hour drive to Tullahoma, TN was no problem, thanks to some sunflower seeds and a handful of much needed phone conversations. I stayed with my friend, Valerie, who also happened to be my roommate at the Miss Rodeo USA pageant this past January. We caught up for a day and off I went to Shelbyville, TN for the Kolt Barber American Cowboy Showdown.
My main duties were to present the colors, which is a typical job of mine. I go into the rodeo office to get the American flag and my eyes got big! Needless to say, it was a huge flag! In the back of my mind, I also knew there was going to be pyro in the opening of the rodeo which would make for an exciting entrance! I was mounted on one of the pick-up men’s horses and was waiting to enter the arena. One side note, especially with a very tall flag, is that the entry gates usually have a bar across the top. This means you have to tip back your flag to get under the bar. I am always careful to not let the flag touch the ground so I rounded up a couple people standing around to catch the tail if it was getting close to the ground. I successfully make it in to the arena and make my lap. Settling in the middle was not on this horses mind but we do and just as he is finally calm the pyro starts up! Thankfully he didn’t get too fired up and I was quick to react and hold the reins snug.
After the grand entry, I walked throughout the crowd signing autographs and chatting with the local fans throughout the rest of the rodeo. They had a 10 minute intermission to work the arena before barrel racing and I helped set up the barrels. One of the rodeo judges said to me as I came carrying the barrel, “Well, I’ve never seen this before.” Not knowing if he was talking about something being wrong with the barrel or not I said, “Saw what?” He was talking about seeing a rodeo queen carry a barrel out into the arena. I told him, “I always say, a little bit of work is well worth the front row seat to watch one of my favorite events!” I only had to set up one barrel during all the runs so it was an easy task. I don’t like to sit still at a rodeo because I know there is always something that can be done. I had already made it through the crowd so I jumped up when I saw the barrels sitting at the side of the arena.
Following the rodeo, Kolt Barber performed live music on the far side of the arena. You can’t get much better than a good rodeo until you add a live concert to it! These were two activities I hadn’t been to in a while and I got to experience both in one day. I spent a few more days in Tennessee to see a few sites with Valerie. It sure is good to have friends all over the country. It definitely makes traveling more fun. Oh, how could I forget to mention all the good home cooking I got to experience? They sure weren’t kidding on the whole southern hospitality thing I have always heard so highly about. I will now be adding corn bread to every meal I make back home. Now it’s off to Alabama for the 25th Annual Marion Rodeo!
Miss Rodeo USA 2020
Brooke’s Bloopers: When I was driving through Nashville I ran into some backed up traffic. Remember, being from Kansas, I am hardly ever at a standstill on a 5 lane highway (There really aren’t many 5 lane highways in Kansas anyway). I was cruising along and had to pretty quickly come to a halt. As I stopped, my sunflowers seeds went flying and covered the floor board of my truck. After a gasp, I began to laugh because I think the spilling of the seeds startled me more than the quick stop. All in all it was fine and I lost about half my bag of seeds.
Queens Corner: Traveling essentials are important when going across the country or even just down the road. Here is a packing list of essentials that I can’t go anywhere without!
Rain Gear- rain slicker, hat cover, muck boots
Cold gear- winter coat, medium weight coat, hat, gloves, blanket
Rodeo Gear- spurs, rope, gloves, pocket knife, zip ties, flag boot x2, bobby pins, safety pins
Miscellaneous- flashlight, trash sacks, tape (all types), plastic sacks, small tool kit, toilet paper, paper towels, spare tire, jack, Clorox wipes, tissues, tire gauge, chargers for all electronics, sunglasses, hand sanitizer
Queen bag- Tide to go pen, jewelry, make-up, ball cap, hair supplies/styling tools, clothing, hats, crown, sashes, belt buckle, autograph sheets, sharpies, computer, planner
Extras- bobby pins, rodeo shirts/jeans, boots, hat, hairspray, sharpies, sunflower seeds, Mountain Dew, first aid kit, scissors, sunscreen
The most unusual item of them all is a chalk board eraser because it will clean the film off of the inside of your windshield!
I have always said this commonly mispronounced word as shaps instead of chaps. The term chap is derived from the Spanish word chaparro, which is thorny low brush. Chaps were meant to protect the clothing and legs from getting torn up as cattle were being moved across treacherous terrain. Today we see chaps used for both work on the ranch and decorative show in the rodeo arena, either way they demonstrate the culture of the cowboy way and the evolution of the western industry. However you were raised saying the word chaps, know there is no right or wrong way but you might get a funny look depending on what region you’re in.
The Miss Rodeo USA Association is blessed with multiple perpetual chaps that are gorgeous in their very own way. I can’t tell you how incredibly convenient it was to have two pairs of chaps in arm as I won the title. I never had to go to a rodeo without a pair. Wynn Custom Leather and Jody Lumley created two patriotic pairs for the 2020 queen. I have been able to proudly wear both pairs on multiple occasions so far this year. In addition to these, each Miss Rodeo USA was able to design her own custom pair of chaps to be made by Sara Prochaska with Lazy P Creations. Which as you all know just happens to be my Aunt! With Sara donating her time and the Weldon family (a former MRUSA’s family) for donating the cost of leather I was able to create a custom pair of chaps!
I have designed multiple chaps throughout my years as a rodeo queen and when I earned the title of Miss Rodeo USA, I knew this pair had to top them all. In the initial stages of design, I wanted them to be patriotic and also make a definite statement. I started thinking about all the symbols that stood out to me about our country. The first few that came to mind were the Statue of Liberty, bald eagle, and Liberty Bell. Phrases such as, “In God We Trust”, “Home of the Brave”, and “Land of the Free” also stood out to me. I then brainstormed how to make these chaps showcase my journey as a rodeo queen. As a Kansan, sunflowers were a must and an acid wash hair on hide had been on my bucket list to use as a base for some time now.
With all of these ideas floating around in my head I had to get it on paper. I started with long flowing red and white stripes around the edge of a batwing chap outline. While most rodeo queen chaps are identical on both legs I chose to go the road less traveled. I drew a tall, proudly standing Statue of Liberty on one leg with my title of Miss Rodeo USA, making this side very feminine and representing the strong women of our rodeo community. I then placed a bald eagle, our national symbol, in flight across the middle of the other leg along with the International Professional Rodeo Association (IPRA) logo. Both of these logos represent a group that stands for more than just itself. It was meant to showcase the strength and determination of the bald eagle and the cowboys and cowgirls of the IPRA. At this point I knew I was getting somewhere. Multiple sketches and many eraser marks later I was happy with the design. I then sent it on to Sara for her thoughts. We worked together on hashing out the final details and she got to work!
Most importantly in this design, I wanted to showcase my cousin, DJ’s, legacy. I finally achieved the highest ranked title as a rodeo queen, the one that was her ultimate goal, which she never had the chance to achieve. Stemming from DJ’s attitude toward life, my personal platform to Dream Bigger came to life and I wanted to portray that somewhere on these chaps. One more important piece of this puzzle was having a few tooled leather pieces. With the assistance of Ranchy Bar B by Jackie White we were well on our way with tooled sunflower hip plates, scrolls for both legs and a back belt that clearly reads, Dream Bigger. I knew with the addition of some tooled pieces the vision I had imagined for my chaps would come to life. Jackie and I had a secret of our own and that was putting “DJ” on each hip in honor of my cousin, who is Sara Prochaska’s daughter. We managed to keep it a secret all the way up until Sara saw the pieces in person. It was a detail I wanted to surprise her with!
Sara got to work by carefully cutting every little detail out of leather and putting it into place to sew down. I honestly couldn’t wait to see the finished project because I knew it would be just like I had imagined and sure enough it was! They were completed just in time for my photo shoot with Sherry Smith Photography in Arkansas! Sara has always been a huge advocate for “Creating Your Vision” and that is exactly what she did for me! After everything, these definitely wouldn’t have been possible without a few very crucial people giving their time talents and donations. I would like to thank Sara Prochaska, Jackie White, and the Weldon Family for all believing in my dreams for the perfect pair of chaps. I am over the moon with these! Enjoy these beautiful photos by Sherry Smith Photography.
Miss Rodeo USA 2020
Brooke’s Bloopers: Most of my social media posts are photos taken by me promoting different product I have received from my amazing sponsors! I was doing a little mini selfie style photo shoot of a darling shirt I received and was trying to do a photo of me hanging out in the grass on a warm day in Kansas. I go to take the photo with the phone above my head and totally drop my phone right on my face. After saying a loud ouch I couldn’t help but laugh at myself. I feel like we have all been there a time or two. I’m sure you are picturing this happening right now. It’s okay, you can laugh at me!
Queens Corner: When designing anything, make sure you know what you want before you approach a designer. No matter if it is a pair of custom chaps, vest, or bag. The best custom pieces are the ones that mean the most to you because they have a story. I love creating the brainchild of someone else’s desires. To me, knowing that I poured my heart and soul into something that you really put a lot of thought into means so much more in the end. It always helps a designer if you send picture of product that you have seen and like. That helps us get a feel for your aesthetic. All in all, know what you want before pitching an idea to a designer. It will make it so much easier in the long run!
I have been looking forward to another photo shoot with Sherry Smith Photography since my first one as Miss Rodeo USA in Guthrie, Oklahoma! Sherry is the official photographer for the Miss Rodeo USA pageant and I can’t think of a better person for that task. She’s a Houdini with a camera, getting every important shot without anyone noticing her running around. I knew this next photo shoot with her was going to be just as amazing. I traveled down to Lincoln, Arkansas for a whole new experience in front of the camera with Sherry. To make the trip even better my truck got a new wrap by Katalyst Sign and Grafix. We were south bound in style!
We started out shooting sponsor clothing that I’ve been excited to debut for a while now but knew I needed the perfect photo to showcase each outfit. Sylvia Sandford with Queenies Custom Creations created a rich purple shirt with embroidered skulls and flowers all over it! I have always loved Pirates of the Caribbean, so naturally the skulls were right up my alley. Lottie Morrison (mother to a former MRUSA) created a beautiful deep gray leather vest with feathers and horseshoes, which paired with one of my Ariat shirts perfectly. Another show stopper was a bright pink breast cancer awareness arena shirt by Gloria Rudd with Rodeo Queen Shirts! I had fun with this one during a few shots with a gorgeous red roan horse named Rubin. I paired all my favorite Ariat denim, Miss Macie Boots, and Rhinestones Lipgloss Earrings with these fabulous custom pieces. I was also excited to showcase new Boot Rugs, my MJ Belt, Hoofies, Gypsy Tails, and a patriotic horse blanket thanks to Janet Woods!
Before I headed to Arkansas, Sherry told me she had an idea for a shot with smoke and colored lights. Of course I was totally in but knew I needed a specific outfit to capture the fierceness this photo had to offer. So I designed and made a snake skin fringe dress myself to pair with my bright white Miss Macie Boots! I felt like I was on top of the world while capturing this piece of artwork. Sherry had the great idea of adding white chiffon to create more movement in the photo while her husband Keith, used a leaf blower to bring the chiffon to life.
Another custom piece I had a part in designing were my custom Miss Rodeo USA chaps by Sara Prochaska with Lazy P Creations, who is also my aunt! It took a couple weeks to tweak the design until it was perfect but let me tell you what, these are the coolest chaps I have ever seen. While I might be a tad biased, there is no doubt they make a statement!
This photo shoot couldn’t have come at a better time. With many rodeos and events being cancelled I was missing the chance to really feel like Miss Rodeo USA lately. Sherry Smith helped me feel like a queen by capturing so many breathtaking photos that I will get to cherish for many years to come. Enjoy a first look at many of these amazing photographs. Thank you Sherry for all your hard work to get every photo exactly right!
Miss Rodeo USA 2020
Brooke’s Bloopers: While shooting with Sherry Smith Photography, I was asked to do a twirl to get the fringe on my dress to fly! Well, I was standing on a wobbly rock and we all know how this is going to end… Twirling in an all-white outfit, in a damp forest area is a recipe for disaster for me. I fell off the rock but stayed standing and miraculously missed stepping on one of Sherry’s flashes! We all got some good belly laughs out of the deal!
Queens Corner: I want to give you a few tips and tricks on preparing for a photo shoot. First off, don’t try new make-up or hair styles the day of! Practice beforehand so you know exactly what you will be doing the day of. Along with that, have all your outfits picked out and paired with jewelry so you can make quick changes on set. This will take away a lot of stress in the moment. Keep a hair brush, hair spray, and lipstick close by to do quick touch ups if needed. Finally, make sure to talk to your photographer beforehand so you both know what to expect on number of changes and clothes that will correspond with shoot locations.
Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.
I got to go to a rodeo and it sure felt good! When I originally saw there was an IPRA rodeo on the list that didn’t have cancelled or postponed written beside it, I didn’t care how far I had to drive. I wanted to go! To make it even better it was just a short 4 hours and some change to get down there. For reference, my idea of a short drive is less than 7 hours. A fair drive ranges from 8-13 and a long drive is anything over that. This has dramatically changed from the day I had to drive one hour to college and I thought that was a long drive. So off to Locust Grove I went with a smile from ear to ear and my essential road snacks, cracked pepper sunflower seeds and a mountain dew. This trip was mighty easy because I had a traveling partner which doesn’t always happen for me. My roommate entered in the barrel racing so we sang along to every country song all the way down through Kansas and as we got into Oklahoma. I swear our voices became a little bit jumbled, maybe because of the bumpy roads. We were both equally excited to be on the road headed to a rodeo!
For the Friday evening performance I was honored to carry the American flag during the opening ceremony. I then crossed paths with a two fellow rodeo royalty, Miss ACRA, Haven Davis and Jr. Miss ACRA, Myranda Kistler. We all cleared the arena between contestants and enjoyed each other’s company. While taking precautions and social distancing we stayed horseback most of the performance and didn’t spend as much time talking to the crowd as we typically would. It felt a little odd for me not to start walking amongst the crowd to explain an event to a fan, or sign an autograph sheet to an admiring little girl. After the rodeo I stuck around to help clear the arena during slack. Slack is the term used to identify the remaining contestants that didn’t fit into the designated rodeo performance time. There is a random drawing to determine who is competing in the performance and who competes in slack, but all contestants have the same chance to win money. There were a record number of contestants for this rodeo with over 400 entries. In the past there have only been just over 100. That is a big change for a small rodeo. So needless to say slack ran until about 2 a.m. on Friday and 4 a.m. on Saturday. I will admit I was a bit chilly and definitely covered in mud but happy to be horseback doing what I love. I still can’t believe I was at a rodeo in May with a winter coat on.
Saturday rolled around and I went to get on Ralph, one of Kyle Robinson’s pick-up horses from Big Horn Rodeo. To my surprise my horse was already occupied by a little boy named Leroy. He was enjoying Ralph just as much as I did the night before. Leroy is Kyle’s son and didn’t seem to want to get off anytime soon so I climbed on double and we went for a pre-rodeo walk around the fairgrounds. Not many words were spoken because Leroy and I didn’t quite speak the same English but we both knew what tractor, horse and bull were so naturally we got along real great. Opening ceremonies took place and all the rodeo royalty, with the addition of the Ken Lance Memorial Rodeo Queen, Shannon Kerr were horseback carrying flags. Even though the sun shined down on the arena all day it didn’t quite dry the arena up. So with another muddy performance the show still went on and a good show it was!
Miss Rodeo USA 2020
Brooke’s Bloopers: While pushing cattle out of the arena Friday night we were met with an interesting surprise in the middle of the arena. After getting a calf out of the arena I spun my horse Ralph around to head back down the arena and I bust out laughing with the sight of a dachshund running down the middle of the arena. Remember, this was a very sloppy and muddy arena and his short little legs barely kept his belly off the mud. As I was contemplating hopping off my horse to pick this dog up a lady comes running out to get it. The rodeo resumes but not 15 minutes later I was watching another tie down roping contestant make a run and just as the calf leaves the chute the same little dog was hot on its heels. So not just once but twice this little dog makes an appearance in the arena creating lots of laughs and fortunately no wrecks. In all of my years of rodeo I have never had a dog come out into the arena, let alone a dachshund!
Queens Corner: Put yourself in the position to watch as many pageants as you can or compete in a mock pageant! I know that it definitely helped me with my mental preparation before running for a pageant. Even by watching a different pageant you are going through each step of the process. Watching contestants during horsemanship, model, give speeches, and answer impromptu questions you gain a lot of experience mentally. I took advantage of always going to rodeos that had a pageant coincide with the rodeo. If you are ever considering extra steps you can take to improve before competing in your next pageant go watch a pageant! Also by attending clinics you can receive valuable feedback. Remember the Miss Rodeo USA clinic will be August 14-16, 2020. Any age and skill level are welcome to come learn and improve their rodeo ambassador skills!
I don’t design clothes. I design dreams. -Ralph Lauren
It is no secret that I am a seamstress by trade. I even have a diploma to prove it! I came to love the art of sewing in high school and that transformed into pursuing a career in the fashion industry at Kansas State University. I found my calling in making custom western wear from designing and sewing for myself. So in a way I designed my own dreams! As cliché as it sounds it is true! The option to make clothes for rodeo queens isn’t an advertised job description but it is something I found along the way and is a true passion of mine.
In the beginning, art of all sorts was a talent for me. I particularly loved mixed media, painting, and drawing. Through high school I started to think about turning it into a degree but didn’t know in what capacity that would be. Along with my art classes, I started to sew in my Family and Consumer Science classes. This led me to enter my work at art shows and through FCCLA (Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America) competitions. I soon saw that my talents were also liked by others and that is part of the reasons I continued to pursue this dream of an art degree. I had two very influential teachers at this time that truly believed in me and gave me the ability to say, anything is possible! Mrs. Stott and Mrs. Haslouer, if you are reading this, yes, you guessed it. I’m talking about you!
My parents always encouraged me to get a higher education and were very supportive of my decision to enter an arts program. I am very thankful for their backing because I wouldn’t be where I am today without it. It took a couple years for me to come to the conclusion that the western wear industry was where I belonged. Which seems odd right? I still am not sure why I couldn’t see that at first. In the grand scheme of things becoming a rodeo queen is what led me to that realization. I needed certain clothing to wear in pageants so naturally I put my skills to work.
I have been primarily sewing for myself. A handful of masks and hemming curtains has been the main project recently. Not as glamorous as you would think. There are a couple of projects that I have been scheming up that should come to fruition throughout my continued quarantine time in May. A majority of my designing time is put into the mental preparation of creating these garments. Once the whole process has been dreamt up I can get started. This year I am very lucky I have many great designers making clothing for me to wear. It’s been fun to brainstorm with fellow designers because I am used to always having to make my own clothing. It has definitely been a change of pace but something I have really enjoyed!
Rodeo queens can have a big influence in the western wear industry and that is the potential I began to see and continue to see today. I am excited to kick off my business constructing custom pieces with the integrity of never making more than one of any item. This way my consumer always knows they will be getting a one of a kind, authentic, and special piece that is just for them. I have been asked on multiple occasions what inspires me or whose work I look to for ideas. The answer is quite simple and I always lean back on a quote from Audrey Hepburn, “I just do my own thing.” So far it has worked pretty well as I have curated my own style throughout my time as a rodeo queen. Stay tuned this year to see my designs, and other various great designers who are extremely talented as well.
Miss Rodeo USA 2020
Brooke’s Bloopers: My roommate and I have been doing some major tree trimming and in an afternoon we got a whole load on the side by side. We didn’t want our stack to tumble off as we made our way to the burn pile so naturally I volunteered as tribute to sit on the pile as we traveled across the pasture. Only a few seconds into our journey and I realized we were moving and my head was not! A thorn branch from a tree was stuck in my bun on my head. I managed to yell stop just before I was pulled right off the top of the pile. We continued to laugh for minutes after as we both realized what happened. There truly is never a dull moment here on the ranch.
Queens Corner: By running multiple different social media pages for years now I have learned some tricks of the trade. Here are a few pointers to help capture a great social media post. I like to get my picture first and create content around a photo. As we all know, when we are on social media we first look at the photo and if intrigued, we will read the post. By grabbing the attention of your followers with a great photo, you can leave them wanting to read the rest. I love funny or light hearted thoughts at first, the substance of the post in the middle, and wrapping up with a final thought. Through this method I feel I have been able to put more depth into my social media posts. My hope is to leave my followers with the same experience I had by just using my words. Take an extra 10 minutes on constructing a post and it will pay off in the end.
Hello there! Blogging this week is Brooke’s biggest fan, her older but shorter sister, Sierra Wallace. I am here to give you some behind the Queen details and stories from when we were growing up.
I will start with one of the first times Brooke was ever on a horse. She was so content that she fell asleep! Much to my Dad’s dismay the silly horse shook and little Brooke went tumbling off. The only reason she cried is because she wanted back on the horse! We kept it a secret from our mom for months because we were afraid she wouldn’t let us ride.
Growing up there wasn’t a horse toy that we didn’t have. We had horses for our Barbies, our Polly Pockets, My Little Pony horses, and more! Guess what? They all had barns and tack too. I fondly remember Brooke and me divvying up the dolls and their horses to set up massive ranches all over our living room and playing for hours and hours. We each had our favorites and made sure to pick them before the other could.
We also pretended to be horses ourselves. At the fairgrounds in Abilene (the stalls were a perfect spot) or at our house we would both be horses or pretend to train the other. Our gaits were perfected in no time, unless it was a day we were wild mustangs. We even had a sheep, Lambert, who we would show in the yard, pretending that he was a pony. Of course, our friends got roped into playing horse as well. They were always down to horse around with us.
We didn’t just play horse, we rode our horses as much as our parents would let us. Riding horses was an activity that we mainly did with our Dad but our Mom always cheered us on. We grew up riding down the dirt roads around our house and in our arena when it wasn’t too muddy. Riding down the roads provided us with ample opportunities to have trotting races. No cantering was allowed. We also loved trail riding. Brooke is one of the youngest riders to have been on a trail ride at the Maxwell Game Preserve. She took the record away from me!
Living with Brooke was never dull. We never knew what idea she would come up with and want to try next. She once told our Dad there were nights that it was hard for her to fall asleep because there were so many ideas popping around in her head. From a Mountain Dew can dress to a prom dress out of duct tape, her ideas and dreams were always big. She has always reached for the stars in every activity to include volleyball, basketball, track, and FCCLA. She lettered multiple years in each sport, was a three time National gold medalist in FCCLA, and graduated co-valedictorian.
Brooke excelled in horse shows as well. We rode English, Western, ran barrels and other fun races. I can’t even count the awards and buckles my little sister has earned. She never let being the youngest in her age group or being in the same age group as her sister get in the way. Brooke has been the High Point Award winner in every age group to date (sometimes multiple years). This is a feat that we think no one else has accomplished! She has always worked to be the best that she can be.
Throughout her life and with her all her queen titles, I have been so proud of Brooke. However nothing can beat the way I felt the day she was crowned Miss Rodeo USA. As we awaited the results, even my Dad, who is normally cool, calm, and collected, had a sense of anxiousness to him. I was shaking with excitement as each category was called out. After I heard that Brooke had swept the pageant, I knew that she just had to be the winner. I screamed with joy as the announcer called her name and maybe even shed a few proud big sister tears. I am so blessed that Brooke is my sister and my best friend!
There are so many memories I wish I could share with all of you but I think that I will end with some random facts that you may not know about Miss Rodeo USA.
Fun Facts about Brooke:
Hearing the words, “Sorry, it’s been cancelled until further notice” have been some of the hardest words to stomach during these last two weeks. In one phone call, my life came to a screeching halt just a few days before departing for a busy year full of rodeos, school visits, and promoting the sport I love dearly. We have all been experiencing postponements and cancellations. It’s not easy, and will continue to be a trying time. During this challenging period, we need to keep a positive outlook and appreciate the precautions that are being taken to keep as many people safe as possible. I understand the severity of our situation; however it doesn’t make any of this easier.
The impact of this virus is affecting everyone. Personally, I only get one year to be Miss Rodeo USA, and it doesn’t magically start over in January because a few months were missed due to a pandemic. My struggle lies in missing many great experiences for potentially a third or more of the year. Without events and rodeos those chances to make an impact on a student, fan, or pedestrian at the airport don’t happen. The best way to describe this feeling is like being ripped off by a bad scam. I see this virus affecting everyone else around me too. What about my friends who don’t get a formal graduation, couples postponing their weddings, and countless people being laid off? Events and gatherings that people count on every year are just not happening. When we stop thinking about our personal problems and open our eyes, we see the real impact that is happening around us. While it is easy to get down about our own misfortune, know that everyone else is dealing with this as well. Choose to be supportive of others in any way you can. We are all in this together. Well, six feet apart that is!
The rodeo industry has taken a huge hit just like most sports. I have never known a rodeo to cancel for anything! I once attended a rodeo with a tornado warning happening and others during torrential downpours. The phrase, “the show must go on” has been used a time or two by countless arena directors. So the initial thought of a cancelled rodeo was all but unheard of. Many rodeo contestants rely heavily on the income they make from competing in rodeos all year long. The 51st International Finals Rodeo will be drastically affected by multiple months without a single rodeo. Seasoned veterans and rookie contestants will definitely have their work cut out for them this fall. On the bright side, contestants are having more time to practice and injured contestants are gaining valuable time to heal. All of this happening without the leader boards changing. Postponing events will definitely make for a busier fall season with stiff competition. We will see how it all unfolds.
Currently, I am thankful for the time I have at home to catch up on the never ending to-do list. I have been able to ride my own horses and dust off the sewing machine, which are two of my favorite pastimes. As I write this not knowing exactly when I will have another event I’m choosing to stay optimistic about my situation and make the most of my time as Miss Rodeo USA whether that is from my home in Kansas or eventually at an IPRA rodeo. I’m reminding myself to not get upset about things that can’t change. Instead I will continue to do my job, but just in a very different way than I am used to. Stay tuned into my social media for many giveaways, trivia, and educational posts. If you have any questions or want to hear about a certain topic, feel free to comment below or send me a personal message. I would love to know what topics you would like to hear about from me! While this quarantine is not ideal, it is essential. We can and will make it through.
Miss Rodeo USA 2020
Brooke’s Bloopers: After being cooped up inside the past week I have made exercise for myself and my horses a priority. I do a combination of actually riding or taking them for a jog, like you would with your dog. Seems funny and it probably is funny looking but it works in the best interest for everyone. I get my exercise and so do they, while also working on their ground manners. Well, the other day I went out to catch one to take on a jog and no one wanted to be caught. I tried for a while but then realized I too was getting a workout trying to catch those hooligans and they were all four were getting exercise instead of just one. What started out as trying to catch one turned into a game and I would take off running and they would take off running past me and gallop to the other side of the pasture. After a good ten rounds we’d all had enough and called it a day.
Queens Corner: School visits can definitely be an intimidating quest if you don’t have experience dealing with different ages of students. What started out as a nerve-racking task turned into one of my favorite activities to do as a rodeo queen. My typical school presentation starts out with reading my favorite rodeo or western inspired book. Then I relate the story I chose back to the rodeo industry and history behind the sport. I get asked a lot of questions which helps me know what to cover the next time. One question I’m often asked is why I wear a crown and sash. I answer that many different jobs have a uniform, and this is my uniform. I explain why I wear a hat to protect me from the sun and rain, and that my crown and sash are my name tag to show everyone who I am. I finish up by stating that I wear long sleeves, jeans, and boots for protection because I work outside with horses and livestock.