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.
I can hardly believe two months as Miss Rodeo USA has already come and gone. Lucky for me I got an extra day this year because of leap day! I will consider that a win. With 60+ days under my belt, here is where I have been so far!
I started out quickly with a photo shoot the day after coronation! Sherry with Sherry Smith Photography and I had an absolute blast regardless of the chilly weather. She is very talented and captured some amazing shots of me at the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Oklahoma. After that I returned to Kansas and had many different interviews during the week following coronation. One of my personal favorites was an interview with Lindsay King for Rodeo News. We knew each other prior to this interview, which made it even more fun to chat with her.
At the end of January, I was honored to be picked as a famous Kansan by Sarah, a 4th grader at Centre Elementary School. She presented in front of her whole class about my accomplishments and even dressed up as a rodeo queen to do so. I was so impressed with her presentation for Kansas Day!
On my birthday in mid-February I traveled to Plainville, Kansas to visit the middle school and high school. I spoke with the students about setting goals and working hard to reach them. Some of the middle school students had the most fun trying on my fur coat and wearing my chaps. I truly love sharing my experiences that led me to where I am now in hopes to inspire others to try something big in their lives. My hostess for this event, Liz Stamper, made my birthday special with a personalized “USA” ice cream.
Once you become a wildcat, you will always be a wildcat. After an exciting birthday, I went back to my Alma Mater to attend the Miss Rodeo K-State pageant, Kansas State University rodeo, and alumni event. This was definitely a highlight of my year so far. I so enjoyed my time getting to see friends and my KSU family that I have grown to know over the years. This is one rodeo that never disappoints. The crowd, energy, and traditions make the atmosphere so astounding!
The following week, the local 4-H clubs in Council Grove had a project day to introduce kids to new events to try. I was honored to be a part of the buymanship presentation. My groups got to pair outfits together using my rodeo queen clothes and accessories. This was to help them work on creating an entire look from head to toe. We also had a good time learning and practicing our modeling skills.
After that, back down I-35 to Oklahoma City I went to attend the Royal Review Rodeo Queen Jackpot as an emcee with one of my good friends Jordan Tierney, Miss Rodeo America. The Royal Review has been a crucial part of my rodeo queen preparation and practice throughout the last three years. I loved how the clinic was set up for us to learn for a few days, and then get to put our skills into practice by competing against other ladies our age from across the country. I met so many amazing friends through this event and was so excited to be asked back to help with the clinic this year.
Kicking off March I pulled out Short Go Children’s Books and Rusty’s Remuda to share with the Rossville Elementary K-6 graders. These two are very different stories, but both very good to help teach about rodeo and the western way of life. In the future, I hope to be able to write and illustrate stories like these to give kids even more of a selection of western and rodeo themed books to read, and so rodeo queens have more stories to help teach young kids about our sport.
Being involved in FCCLA and FACS classes in high school lead me to speaking at the United Associations Conference in Wichita, Kansas about my experience through fashion design in the western industry. I spoke to teachers and extension agents about my experience in hopes that they could inspire young minds to pursue a design degree. Jim Richardson, a National Geographic photographer was the keynote speaker. He showed a number of photos from the places he had been and really captivated the audience. I was truly inspired by his presentation about what it was like to capture a story and not just a photo. I feel like I tend to be the one trying to inspire others, yet that day I myself found a little magic in the words of Jim.
Spending some more time in Kansas, I attended Equifest put on by the Kansas Horse Council. I had a multitude of jobs throughout the weekend. My favorite part of course was carrying the American flag during the ranch rodeo each evening. I got to meet amazing folks like Adrian “Buckaroogirl” Brannon, spend some time with my favorite hatters at Hatman Jack’s Booth. I also met an inspiring new friend Jill, who started a business, Baby Blue Roo, after her daughter. I’m truly lucky to get to meet some remarkable people during my travels.
This last Saturday was my official meet and greet for my year as Miss Rodeo USA. The beautiful Sand Springs Venue in Abilene, Kansas was the perfect place for my friends, family, and fans to gather together. I got to speak about what my year as would entail, different places I will be going, and of course for everyone to mingle over a good piece of cake. Laughter was shared as the crowd asked me different questions after I spoke. Even my uncle threw in some trivia questions! All in all it was very enjoyable to have all of my favorite people together.
Miss Rodeo USA 2020
Brooke’s Bloopers: When picking up a silent auction item from Lazy KT Designs near Abilene, (go check out her awesome items) I was taking back roads into town. It had just rained and I came over the top of a hill and hit some unexpected mud. After slipping and sliding I came to a stop and was stuck. I used some critical thinking skills as any farm girl would so she wouldn’t have to call her dad and was able to get unstuck. I then got re-stuck trying to get out then unstuck again and realized I needed a new plan. I found a grass path to the next drive way and was able to get right on my way with only the evidence of mud on my car to tattle on me.
Queens Corner: Pageant applications can be daunting trying to get every single detail right. This can be a lot of pressure being your very first impression on all your judges. First and foremost, meet your deadline. However, in the process give yourself plenty of time to make the edits your application deserves. My best tip is to fill it out and then wait a week or so and go back and read through it again. This way you will find a lot of those edits on your own and make sure it is truly what you want to get across to your judges. Be concise, to the point and leave out generic words. Once you are happy with your application, send it on to a few others to double check for errors.