A quick trip back to Kansas was no understatement. I truly enjoy my time on the road but there really is no place like home. Yes, that is definitely a Wizard of Oz line but how could I resist! I am from Kansas you know. I am quite surprised that I don’t get called Dorothy or asked where my dog Toto is more often. Every once in a while I will get a joke cracked in my direction about the movie characters but always way less then I expect. I always get asked if I’m from Kansas City like there are no other towns in the whole state. I love it though and get a good laugh out of explaining where I live.
My next journey took me back to Tennessee. If you recall, I was there in June so I was excited to go to a different area of the state. I arrived to Lebanon with a full weekend in sight. The Hedrick Rodeo Company was contracting this rodeo which made an easy transition into the weekend because I already knew how they liked to put on a rodeo. I was thrilled to be using the huge American flag for the grand entry. It really looks so cool and pictures don’t even do it justice. I carried on with my normal duties as queen and even got some sorting in the back pens done during slack and was named the official barrel setter during the barrel racing. I love working each and every part of the rodeo. In my down time at the rodeo arena a vender called me over and said he wanted to put my picture on something. Naturally I agreed and ended up with my face on a t-shirt and a mug! That sure was a first!
The unique thing about this rodeo is that it is put on by Mending Fences Cowboy Church to benefit the local Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). If you didn’t know, the FCA is the only organization left that can promote Christian teachings in the public school system. Quite honestly I can’t think of a better way to raise money for such an organization other than a rodeo! It was the perfect combination. We had packed attendance both nights of the rodeo and the Mending Fences Cowboy Church said the rodeo gets better every year. I was pleased to be a part of such a great cause. To round out the weekend, I had the opportunity to present my platform speech at the Sunday morning service before I left town. This was extra special to me because I haven’t had many opportunities to speak in front of a crowd about why I am so passionate about being a rodeo queen. I cherish that moment a little more this year.
While between stops from Tennessee to Georgia I had a bit of a scare with hurricane Sally. I was staying with my friend in Alabama a couple days before it was supposed to get bad. She casually said we might have to take shelter in a culver. From that moment, I started to joke that I should pack up and head on back to Kansas where I would be safe from Sally. It all blew over in our area and we definitely didn’t have to take cover. There was just a lot of rain and wind. I am so thankful I didn’t experience a full blown hurricane but I will say it made me much more nervous than any tornado warning ever has.
With threats of hurricane Sally now nonexistent the Sunbelt Rodeo Queen Pageant was still a go. I traveled over to Moultrie, Georgia for two days of the pageant. I couldn’t believe they had 26 ladies entered between the multiple age divisions. It was so promising to see little girls all the way up to the young ladies. In years past, the Sunbelt Ag Expo has sent the winner of the Miss division to the Miss Rodeo USA pageant. They have had one of the reigning women go on to receive the title of Miss Rodeo USA, which was Brittany Howard Lovan in 2017. As the weekend flew by I was honored to help the current Miss Sunbelt Expo Rodeo Queen, Sarah Larson, emcee the pageant. We told stories from the Miss Rodeo USA pageant and both of our experiences there between each contestant. Since I am not from the south many last names and home towns are very foreign to me. I got tongue tied a few times while reading bios of the contestants but it definitely made for laughs throughout the competition.
Amongst different events I stay busy on the road by doing some of my hobbies like wood burning or sewing. It helps pass the days between rodeos and gives me something productive to do with my time. I love being creative and it has become a very good stress reliving activity. I have been packing my sewing machine so I can alter clothes on the road or even make something new! I recently have been working on my wardrobe for the Miss Rodeo USA pageant this January as I will be passing my title onto the next winner of the crown. I hope you are looking forward to seeing all my new creations in January!
Miss Rodeo USA 2020
Brooke’s Bloopers: As we were enjoying our meal after coronation at the Sunbelt Rodeo Queen Pageant I needed to use the restroom and as I was returning to my seat I chose to freestyle back to my seat. By freestyle I mean slip and fall in the middle of Applebee’s. I have never in my life slipped so fast. One minute I was up and the next minute I was down. The tile was wet and I caught the slope of my heel at the wrong angle. It never fails that a clumsy moment will always sneak up on me! The only saving grace is that I recover like a professional, probably because I have taken a fall on many occasions in my lifetime.
Queens Corner: Put me in the sorting pens! I love helping with stock at rodeos and usually I have found that help is needed if you just start working. In Lebanon, I finished signing autographs and slack had started. I went to the back and climbed right in and was handed the list. I called numbers and pointed to what pen the next steer was in. I could have gone back to my hotel and went to bed but I ended up having a blast as we finished up slack that evening. The stock contractor for the rodeo was appreciative as well. It’s not every day a rodeo queen is in the back pens. Remember to always know how to do the job before you jump in to help but that help is usually always needed.
I have been waiting to attend a rodeo in the Peach State since March! After many cancellations and postponements, off to Georgia I finally went! I was welcomed with rain, rain, and more rain. It wasn’t just one day, but two out of three rodeo performances that it down poured. In the midst of all the rain I managed to soak two of the four felt cowboy hats I had packed in my truck. If you have never experienced a wet felt hat, I will fill you in. Basically, the brim totally flattens as they get soaked. Then as they dry, the brim warps into a new and interesting shape and can’t be worn until a professional hat shaper gets their hands on it. It’s a process to fix, so getting multiple hats soaked was not on the top of my list of things to accomplish while I was in Georgia. Despite all the precipitation we didn’t let it get us down throughout the weekend in Blue Ridge, Georgia for the 24th Annual Blue Ridge Kiwanis Rodeo.
The Hedrick Rodeo Company provided stock for this IPRA rodeo and these bucking horses and bulls have been cooped up for a while now because of many rodeo cancellations. All I’m saying is that they bucked and bucked hard! It always amazes me how well rodeo contestants compete in any weather conditions. When you think of other sports, typically rain will cause delays and cancellations but not in the rodeo arena! I have seen some of the highest scored rides and fastest times in the worst conditions. Speaking of bucking bulls, I too rode a bull in Blue Ridge! Not a 2000 pound animal with a heartbeat but more along the lines of a plastic figurine that sat in the back of a truck. One of my duties was to wave to the kids as they got out of school because I wasn’t able to actually go visit them in the classroom this year. So as silly as it seems, I sat at the busiest corner of Blue Ridge to give everyone a cheerful smile as they were getting out of school and off work. It was a great time and I did have to use an umbrella one of those days to keep dry!
The next stop on my travels was Edgefield, South Carolina for the Sandy Oaks Pro Rodeo with stock from Ken Treadway Rodeo Company. I owe a huge thank you to Sue, the owner of Helios Equine Rehabilitation Center, who sponsored my trip to this IPRA rodeo! Sue along with my host family Ed and Traci, truly treated me like a queen while I was in their area. This included giving me a full tour of the beautiful Helios facility when I arrived. I was speechless as I walked through the very clean and newly built building. If I was a horse I would definitely want to hang out there!
The biggest plot twist of the weekend was there wasn’t any rain! So my felt cowboy hats were definitely spared this time around. South Carolina was also a new state for me even though we were barely over the state line. Technically I was staying in Georgia but had to cross the state line every day to head to the rodeo. It still counts though! The Treadways love to put on a performance and make a show out of the rodeo by giving the fans something to watch every moment of the show. This includes a very thought out and detailed grand entry, which by the way is something I really love! The more complicated it is, the better! As I am being told what to do and at what speed on the legendary paint horses of the Treadway’s, I paid very close attention. I didn’t want to be the one who messed up! Naturally it went flawlessly each night of the weekend! I told Pam Threadway that the next rodeo I was with them it better be even more intricate! She responded with a smile and said of course!
During my downtime in Georgia I was able to go on a once in a lifetime experience. The activity on the agenda was foxhunting! I rode with the Belle Meade Hunt to exercise the hounds and learn all about a new sport. We went through the paces but didn’t actually hunt as the season doesn’t start until late fall. The hounds and horses must stay in shape during the off season so that is why they take them out weekly to exercise but with high summer temperatures they don’t push the animal too hard. That didn’t keep us from going over jumps throughout the whole trail which was definitely my favorite! My fabulous mount Parker, took great care of me as we soared over jumps all morning. I have never been more grateful for a background in English riding and jumping until I was in the midst of all this excitement! Little did I know foxhunting is a sport that is in Kansas too! This adventure wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Ed and Traci, my host family for the week. I am not only so thankful for their hospitality but also for them providing such a unique adventure for me!
I now have officially traveled over 10,000 miles which in a year like this is definitely an accomplishment. I racked up the rest of those on my 14 hour drive back to Kansas. Call me crazy but I still say if it’s less than 15 hours it’s a doable distance in a day.
Miss Rodeo USA 2020
Brooke’s Bloopers: During the last performance in Blue Ridge, I really thought we were going to get missed by the rain. It seemed to be clearing off just before the rodeo so I took all my rain gear off and started to warm up my horse for the evening. Sure enough just as I was entering the arena for the opening ceremonies it started to rain and it continued to rain harder and harder throughout the evening. The blooper of the story is that I was wearing a navy hat. When the navy hat got wet it then proceeded to drip dark blue dye on everything including my hair, shirt, and then my seat cover on the way home. It definitely added some humor to the evening.
Queens Corner: With many hours on the road it can get very monotonous. I have come up with a few tips throughout the years that have made miles on the interstate go by a little bit easier. First and foremost when the radio just isn’t making the cut a good podcast will get you quite a good way down the road. Then if you throw in a couple phone calls to friends and family members that will put you down the road another couple hours and I will tell you I have had some of the best conversations with both of my grandmas within the last year just while traveling. Let’s not forget about the snacks. Sunflower seeds and pistachios keep you busier than just any other snacks. If you are craving the sweets, that’s when I crack open the starbursts. Again, it keeps you occupied with un-wrapping each individual piece. I am also the kind of person you can go down the road for hours without music, podcast, or anything and just be content. I assume it is just one of my secret super powers to not get bored on a drive or maybe I am just that used to being on the road.