A lot can be said about a crowning moment… Many would refer to it as climactic, surreal, or in some cases simply unbelievable, but for me, my crowning moment was much more than that. To put it quite simply, and to quote a good friend of mine, “it truly was a dreamcatcher experience!”
As the 2022 Miss Rodeo USA Pageant approached, my heart, mind, and dreams ran faster and faster with each passing day, until finally, it was here! The week kicked off in true “rodeo queen” fashion with room check-in’s, orientation, on-stage introductions, food (of course), amazing sponsorship packages and goodies, photography sessions, and a tea party fit for a queen. That was just day one… Can you believe that?
Fifteen contestants total, 7 days of interviews, 2 rounds of horsemanship, modeling, sponsored fashion shows, 2 speeches, impromptu questions, a surprise late night group interview, tons of great food, 4 rounds of the IFR, all packaged and wrapped up with some of the best fellowship and friends a girl could ever ask for made for an amazing experience. Needless to say, our week was “jam packed and jelly tight,” filled with extra blessings and little miracles along the way.
As Sunday rolled around you could tell that the weight of the week was laying pretty heavily on everyone during coronation day. Nerves, excitement, anticipation and exhaustion all filled the air as we prepared to step foot on the arena floor at the Lazy E. Introductions were quickly made followed by the announcement of fourth through first runner-up and then… (long dramatic pause for effect) they announced the name of the new 2022 Miss Rodeo USA! My heart literally jumped out of my chest as “the formers” surrounded me to place the crown on my hat, place my new sash across my shoulder, buckle a set of new chaps around my waist and legs, take some photos quickly, and then jump on the back of a buckskin 5 Star Quarter Horse to make my first lap as Miss Rodeo USA. Whew, talk about a whirlwind of emotions! At that moment in time, so many feelings, memories and emotions flooded my heart, mind and spirit. “A crowning moment” that quickly became defined by so many moments and stepping stones in life had just given me the opportunity to “be a dreamcatcher” and catch a dream that I had since I was a little girl. Wow, what an honor! I have been asked, “what was it like in the arena that day…” and quite honestly, all I can say is that it was the most humbling and reflective experience of my life.
The more we get to know one another, the more you will discover that I am an avid woman of faith and truly believe that the Lord works all things together for our good. Most importantly, the Lord and Holy Spirit will discern what is the best path and trail for us to travel. It may not always be a bucket of apples and carrots, but it will be the best path for us to learn, grow, and help inspire others to be a better version of themselves than they were yesterday. I can confidently say that I am truly honored and proud that the Lord challenged me to step out my comfort zone and embark on what I believe is going to be the most amazing journey to date. Most importantly, I am thrilled that He is working on me and is allowing me the opportunity to become the cowgirl and ambassador He would like for me to be.
As we close in on our first rodeo of the season, I would like to remind every cowgirl and rodeo queen out there that you can do it! Whatever your goals and dreams are, go for them because you never know what could have been if you didn’t try. Not to mention, we would love to have you all at next year’s Miss Rodeo USA pageant! Just as a quick reminder, The Miss Rodeo USA is selected based on the following judging criteria: Horsemanship 30%, Public Speaking 25%, Personality 20%, Appearance 20% & Written Test 5%. Although it isn’t necessary to win each judged category, it is very important to be consistent and perform well in each category during the competition. Horsemanship is the highest percentage category for good reason. Horsemanship is crucial for a rodeo queen. The rodeo queen never knows what type of horse she will be given to ride at each rodeo. Let’s ride!
I encourage all of my Cowgirl friends between the ages of (18-27) to review the Miss Rodeo USA qualifications (missrodeousa.com), get out there, get involved, and start preparing for the 2023 Miss Rodeo USA pageant. You will not regret it! Remember… Be Genuine, Be Real and most importantly Be You!
Until we meet on the trail again,
Miss Rodeo USA 2022
Viva Las Vegas! The city that never sleeps… I can attest to that being the truth. After spending a week in Vegas during the National Finals Rodeo, attending Cowboy Christmas along with Miss Rodeo America events, I can officially say- I’m a coffee person. A few of the Miss Rodeo USA board members and a former Miss Rodeo USA, Summer Weldon, and I all met up in Vegas. There were fiveof us in a two-bedroom, two bath condo, so you can only imagine the amount of hair spray, laughter and caffeine that was going around! We were able to spendour first day shopping around Cowboy Christmas and visiting sponsors who had booths set up. I was told the whole NFR experience can be overwhelming, but no warning truly captured all that was happening on the strip, convention centers and casinos. There were cowboy hats, boots and fringe for days everywhere you looked, and the Miss Rodeo USA crew was no exception! After we got our fill of shopping and learning the layout of the convention center, it was rodeo time in Vegas. We made our way to the Thomas and Mack and I don’t know if smiles ever left any of our faces. From the lasers and lights, to hearing the bucking horses in the chutes, the whole performance was exhilarating. Jessica Blair Fowlkes, who I watched perform with Lonestar Rodeo Company for years, did the opening ceremony. After our National Anthem played, every person cheered because the rodeo had officially begun. From seeing sash sisters and eating ice cream for supper, the whole night was unforgettable!
For the first time in history, the Miss Rodeo America Organization invited Miss Rodeo USA to the fashion show, boot parade and coronation. I am so thankful for their invite and having the opportunity to experience the NFR as a title holder. The fashion show was fabulous, and Jordan Tierney (Miss Rodeo America 2021-22) shined as “Lady Luck”. The contestants modeled sponsored clothing along with personal items and there were several showstoppers. It was great seeing the girls’ personalities shine through the choreography and modeling. I was seated next to Miss Rodeo Canada Alicia Erickson, and she and I picked out our favorite outfits and danced in our seats together. Once the fashion show was over, we squeezed in a few photos with sash sisters.
The Justin Boot Parade was smack dab in the middle of the convention center,and as the girls walked the red carpet, heads turned left and right. It was so wonderful seeing the girls have fun and show some personality through their fashion, and in what better way than through boots! Once the parade was finished we hit the road to our next stop. As rodeo queens, whether it’s past or present, we do a lot of driving and see a lot of roads. With that being said I (originally) trusted Summer’s driving abilities. However, the more we drove and the more honks we got from people I started to question that trust. For three days we couldn’t figure out why we got honked at every time we drove.Eventually Summer and I realized we weren’t using turn lanes and anytime we turned into our condo we would stop in ongoing traffic. I promise Summer and I both passed our drivers test! They just do things a little different in Vegas. Summer will tell you, “hey we got to where we were going without getting hurt so it’s fine.” However, there were a few times I did the “oh no” grab on my seat.
We spent Saturday evening with the Sherry Smith Photography crew, and if any of you have had the opportunity to meet Sherry, you know the wonderful and caring human she is. Sherry asked me if I would want to do a mini impromptu photoshoot with the casino lights- of course my answer was yes! Sherry, Summer and I went out front at the South Point Casino and had a blast dodging cars while getting pictures with all the lights. Even though Sherry had been working all week doing the pageant photos and videography, she still made me feel like a celebrity. Sherry, the entire Miss Rodeo USA Organization loves you and all you do for us!
Sunday came before we knew it and coronation day was upon us. The contestants all sparkled and shined even after a week of grueling competition. There were outfit changes, dances, formal modeling and impromptu questions for the top 5. Seeing the excitement of each category winner and the faces of their friendships made through the competition was simply wonderful. It’s no cliche that the women you meet while competing become lifelong friends. A very special congratulations to Hailey Frederiksen, your Miss Rodeo America 2022!
From laughs and giggles with my board members, to Starbucks and McDonald’s sweet tea runs between events, I am eternally grateful for the opportunities Miss Rodeo USA has given me and all that my board does to make my year special.
Now, Vegas and the NFR might be over but that doesn’t mean the rodeo season is. We still have the Miss Rodeo USA competition in conjunction with the International Finals Rodeo in January. Cowboys and cowgirls from all over are prepping for their time to shine in Guthrie, Oklahoma at the Lazy E arena! You can find me back home in Alabama, still wearing my Ariat Denim, Lane Boots and American Cowboy hats until I make my way to Oklahoma.
Spur’n S Rodeo put on another successful, action packed weekend of rodeo in the Mountains of East Tennessee. The Mountain City Rodeo was a weekend filled with laughter, even outside of the arena. I rolled in to Mountain City Friday but got a little off track; the address I put in my GPS took me to somebody’s house where I was greeted by a giant white rooster! Chickens and I do nothave a good history, so I was quick to turn around. After driving around and getting verbal directions, I found the arena, which was hard to miss if you are on the right road. The arena was decorated with American flags, military flags and a designated trailer that had 13 American flags for each military member lost 3 weeks before the rodeo overseas. With the weekend being the 20th anniversary of 9/11, the opening ceremony was dedicated to remembering the tragic loss of American citizens and first responders, while still celebrating that we live in the Land of the Free. During the roping events, I helped push calves out, and when I wasn’t in the arena I was joined by Dallas Stalins. While I passed out autograph sheets, she sold trick ropes. Together we taught kids how to use the ropes, danced and sang along with the crowd and clown. Friday night came to a close and Dallas and I finished the night playing by the camper with her little cousin Colt. Saturday morning the owners of the Bed and Breakfast I stayed at made breakfast before I went on my way to Double C Western Wear. Eggs, fresh tomatoes and bacon never tasted so good! A huge thank you to Silver Keys B&B for welcoming me like family and making sure I was taken care of. I was greeted at Double C Western Wear by smiling faces of rodeo enthusiasts of all ages. The owners of Double C are no strangers to rodeo, Dianais a past high school rodeo queen and currently is a competitor in the cowgirls’ barrel racing. Diana and her crew would not let me leave empty handed and stocked me up with Double C merchandise. With only a few hours left until the final performance of the weekend, I made my way to the rodeo grounds. The stands were packed and everybody was ready for the rodeo. Throughout the rodeo, contestants, pickup men and even the judges all joined in the sing- alongs with Eugene Fowler, the rodeo clown. Spur’N S had yet another sold out rodeo weekend and I was thankful to be a part of it.
The next weekend I joined another amazing family who rodeo together. The Brooks, the personnel of Southern Rodeo Company, and I spent a fantastic weekend in Gainesville, Georgia. The relief and joy I had when I pulled into the grounds and saw a fully covered rodeo arena was unbelievable. The whole weekend forecastcalled for rain, but it would not bother us a bit. Before thegates opened, the personnel, timers, and I spent some time catching up with one another. Dusty Myers and David Sharp were our clown and announcer for the rodeo, and the banter started early. Once rodeo time approached, I hopped on my mount for the weekend, Ole Yella. After the grand opening of the Seventh Assembly of Praise Rodeo, I visited with the crowd and signed autograph sheets. Dusty kept the crowd laughing with his acts, and the contestants brought the heat. During the rodeo, I met the North Carolina Rodeo Queen, Amber Welch and the new Sunbelt Ag Expo Rodeo Queen, Moira Taber. After chit- chatting and exchanging numbers, it was back to work for me, meeting the people of Gainesville and talking rodeo. Moira joined me again Saturday night in title. Shout out to Stacy Benton for always pulling through and providing great mount for rodeo queens. Saturday night was standing room only. It is always great to rodeo with a full house!
My next two weekends will be busy, busy, busy! I will be joining The Lawrence County Cattlemen’s Association in Moulton, Alabama this next weekend. This will be my first rodeo back in my home state since May, and I cannotwait to see familiar faces in the crowd. My Lane Boots and I will be heading to Tennessee October 1st and 2nd to the 4th Annual FCA Rodeo in Lebanon. As always, keep your eyes peeled for my American Hat and Ariat Jeans. I may be in your hometown soon!
The 15th annual Sandy Oaks Rodeo in Edgefield, South Carolina was one for the books. Ed and Traci David were not only my host family for the weekend, but also work with Helios Equine Therapy and Rehabilitation Center, who sponsor theSandy Oaks rodeo. On Thursday we had a sponsorship supper at the rodeo arena where rodeo committee members, sponsors, the rodeo clown and specialty act gathered to fellowship together. We all exchanged stories about rodeo and I even got to share some of my favorite corny jokes! Once we got back “home” for the night, we made a game plan to visit sponsors in Appling, Georgia and Edgefield, South Carolina before the rodeo Friday evening. While visiting sponsors, Ed asked me if I knew who Paul Revere is. Of course I said yes, and when I asked why, he told me I would be meeting him. Thinking he was joking, I laughed it off, but later that day I got to meet Paul Revere who is the county sheriff, a pastor, and was a third grade teacher for 34 years. I made him show me his driver’s license just to be sure they were not pulling my leg. Along with sponsor visits, we spent some time visiting with the horses and workers at Helios Equine Rehab. If you are in the southeast and are looking for topnotch equine therapy for your horse, make your way to Helios. After sponsor visits, meeting Paul Revere, and checking out the equipment at Helios it was getting close to rodeo time. Ed let me take his new truck for a spin to the rodeo grounds, which was like Christmas for me. Once I got to the rodeo grounds, I met up with Pam Treadway of Treadway Rodeo Company, the stock contractors for the rodeo, who I have not seen since my first rodeo in February. After a quick catchup, we made our game plan and I went to hop on “Semi” her retired western pleasure AQHA paint. My job for the night was to run sponsor flags with Haven Jarman, the Miss American Bull Riders Tour Queen. I have ran sponsor flags all year; however, this rodeo I rode on four wheels instead of four legs. Haven was the best driver I could have asked for on the Kubota that carried the Helios Equine Rehab flag, even if we almost ran into the arena gates a few times.
Saturday morning was an early one for Ed, Traci and me. We switched things up and started our morning with a trail ride at Foxboro Farms, English style! It had been roughly a year since I rode English, and I had a blast riding the farm with a group of great people. Although I was in Ariat jeans and my Lane cowboy boots, I was having the time of my life riding English. After a morning trail ride and a quick bite at a local Mexican restaurant, we had enough time to change clothes, grill, and have steak before rodeo time in Edgefield. Saturday before the opening ceremony, a friend I met during last year’s Miss Rodeo USA Clinic, Brittany Baker, and her mom surprised me. All through the night, they would stop by my “horse” for the night, say hi, and share stories. Rodeo family is a unique and one of the best types of family to have. After passing out autograph sheets and talking with the people of Edgefield, I helped Haven load up and take care of horses and said my goodbyes to the Treadway Rodeo Company crew.
Be on the lookout for me in Northeast Tennessee with the Spur’n S Rodeo Company! We will be throwing down rodeo style in Mountain City September 10-11, so bring the whole family and enjoy our western lifestyle with us.
When in Rome, rodeo- right? That’s what Southern Rodeo Company and I did for the Rome Rodeo. The Brooks brought in some of the best stock and contestants along with top notch announcer David Sharp and funny man Dusty Meyers. I rolled in Friday night before the rodeo and was welcomed with the smiling faces of Southern Rodeo Company and SAY JR. rodeo princess miss temperance. After the opening ceremony I stepped off of “Roach” and was on my way talking with the crowd and passing out autograph sheets. Temperance and I both agreed a sno cone was necessary, one of us didn’t think through our flavor choices and ended up with a blue smile! (Check out the pictures to find out who). Friday night came to a close and Saturday was quick to follow. The whole rodeo group met up for lunch at a sponsor restaurant and we celebrated worker and friend Caleb Combs birthday with a whip cream fight in the parking lot! After eating we all made our way to the rodeo grounds, saddled horses and pushed cows before the rodeo. Before we knew it might 2 of the #RomeRodeo was underway. The arena was a little sticky from rain overnight but we were all ready to rodeo. The opening ceremony song “Wave On” played while I made my entry lap, and we had a trip in the ground but just as the song says we got up and waved on! The rest of the rodeo was a success and finished strong. Southern Rodeo Company finished yet another great rodeo weekend on a high note.
My next rodeo was one I had been anticipating since May when I first met announcer Jaime Osbrink and we did a promotional video for Blue Ridge, Georgia- “God’s Country” as Jaime likes to say. I was able to have my first round of school visits since May in Blue Ridge and was joined by Justin Hedrick pickup man for Hedrick Rodeo Company, but he wasn’t dressed in jeans. He joined me as the “rodeo clown”! After doing school visits at six different schools we stopped by a daycare to play with the kids. Some of the kids were excited over the clown and rodeo Queen coming. However, one wasn’t too keen on my rhinestones and crown. For the first time all year- I made a little kid cry! We came during snack time, the little boy decided he was over it and threw his spoon across the table and went into fussing. To say I was shocked is an understatement! We finished up with the daycare and stopped by the Dairy Queen for a blizzard! Friday before the rodeo we prayed for the rain to go away long enough for us to rodeo and it did! Friday night I was joined in the opening ceremony by the local Drill Team and ran sponsor flags throughout the night. Between two age groups of calf scramble for the kids, a women’s calf scramble, steer dressin and a boot toss I was one busy rodeo Queen during the rodeo all weekend! Saturday was another day of praying the rain away and barely sprinkled during lunch. The Hedrick rodeo crew and I were joined by Dan and his wife Robin Dailey who is a past Miss Rodeo USA! It was great getting to meet and talk to such iconic people in rodeo history. Saturday nights rodeo started with a bang and ended on a high note as well! Circle N Rodeo and Hedrick Rodeo Company put on yet another successful Georgia rodeo.
If you’re in the Georgia area and haven’t been to a rodeo yet, you’re in luck! This coming weekend I will be at the Sandy Oaks Pro Rodeo. As always, keep your eyes peeled for my American Hat, Ariat Jeans and Lane Boots on the rodeo road. Don’t be afraid to holler and say “hey”!
After the IFYR, I moseyed my way to Lincoln Co. Arkansas to Sherry Smith’s for a photo shoot with the newly crowned Miss Teen Rodeo USA, Lana Carter. Lana, Sherry and I spent the evening getting shots in our Lazy P Creations chaps. After having a few days of photography with Sherry, it was off to Huntsville Arkansas for the first -ever street dance and kid’s day. After dancing the night away and having ice cream for supper (thanks Leslie!), I headed to my host home and got ready for the next day of sponsor visits. Wednesday two rodeo board members, Leslie and Brooke, joined me and we drove all around Huntsville and neighboring towns saying thanks to the many gracious sponsors. We even were able to have some fun and make a TikTok dance video at Willow Brooke Farms. Thursday morning was an early start at the Kiwanis, Club. I was able to share my platform of Mentoring Matters along with what being Miss Rodeo USA entails. Throughout the day, we met with a local radio broadcaster and did live remote interviews at several different sponsor locations. While visiting with the White River owners, they mentioned toilet and bathtub go-carts. Me being me, I asked if I could take them for a spin! You can see videos from my time on the Miss Rodeo USA TikTok. Thursday evening we had slack, and I was able to help throughout the night. Friday was another full day of live remote interviews and driving around in our sponsored Ram truck before the first performance of the rodeo. Three other local queens who helped in the mutton bustin’ and passed out autographs during the rodeo joined me. I was horseback for the majority of the night, helping push cows and assisting with the calf scramble. Thank you Shawn Prater for letting me borrow Big Yella Friday night. I always seem to find palominos wherever I go. Saturday I was joined in the parade by Miss Teen Rodeo USA, Lana Carter, and we got to spend some quality sash sister time together before the rodeo. You can keep up with her by following the Miss Teen Rodeo USA Instagram and Facebook pages. Night 2 of the Madison Co. Rodeo, I was privileged to hop on “Percy” the black half quarter horse/mustang that I rode during the IFYR, as well as a paint of Brandon Harris’s. The whole weekend I ended up riding four different horses and each of them were superstars! We had our champion mutton buster announced and some great rides and runs during the rodeo. Being from Alabama, football is something taken seriously and the same goes if you are in Arkansas. I had the experience of ‘calling the pigs’ thanks to Jeff Lee bringing attention to the fact that I’m an Alabama fan. Sunday I got to relax with my host family and practice my roping skills for the first time on a tracking dummy and was able to catch at the lope! Thank you to The Reeds, Madison Co. Rodeo Committee, and sponsors for all you did to make this rodeo happen.
This past weekend was the highly anticipated Miss Rodeo USA Clinic. To say I was excited is an understatement. I was able to attend the clinic in Alabama last year as a participant, but was ecstatic to be a clinician at a new location at Jasper Springs Ranch in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Several past Miss Rodeo USA’s and board members were able to attend, along with some impressive cowgirls that wanted to be part of helping these young and upcoming queens advance their knowledge in the industry. We had 25 young ladies attend, along with parents and even had sponsors stop in during meals so the attendees could meet those who helped put on the clinic and support our organization. Thank you to all the sponsors who helped make this event the success it was! From a full day of horsemanship, modeling, rodeo 101, media interviews, hair and makeup tips, and even a photo shoot for each participant, everyone attending was sure to walk away with new and improved rodeo queen skills. We had attendees from 8-27 years old, and each person improved throughout the weekend. I can’t wait to watch the journey of each and every one of these queens.
I am now back on the rodeo road to Rome, Georgia with Southern Pro Rodeo, loaded down with my Ariat denim and Lane boots for both inside and outside the arena.
July has been nothing short of thrilling for me on the rodeo road. I drove 11 hours, leaving my house at 2 a.m, for Fort Scott, Kansas to rodeo with Hampton Pro Rodeo. When I arrived, announcer Jeff Lee greeted me. After introducing myself, he asked where I was from, because he knew it wasn’t anywhere close by. He got a kick out of how I say my home state, Alabama-and didn’t let me forget it! After meeting Kevin and Gina Hampton and the rest of the Hampton Rodeo crew, we shared some homemade cookies courtesy of Gina, and I got a quick nap in before rodeo time. Friday night’s rodeo started with Ole Glory and I entering the arena on “Jessie”, an AQHA buckskin of the Hampton’s. The personnel kept the rodeo moving and before you knew it, the rodeo clown, Colten Ulmer, was up with his miniature horse “Rocky”. They gave the crowd a show to remember and left them cheering for the dynamic duo! The Calf Scramble was up next, and kids seemed to appear out of air to get into the arena for their chance at winning a gift card. Kids of all sizes got a little rowdy in the rodeo arena chasing calves, and all got a dollar for coming down! After bull riding, they even had a “money the hard way” challenge for the adults. Two brave souls got in the arena and tried to grab a ribbon placed between a bull’s horns for $500! The first performance ended with nobody badly hurt and people excited for the next night’s rodeo. Saturday morning the weather was not in our favor with tornado and storm warnings for the entire day. Thankfully, by showtime it had cleared up and all we had to worry about was not getting stuck in the mud. After the opening ceremony with “Jessie” I started walking through the crowd and saw familiar faces from the night before! Many rodeo fans wanted to see who the overall champions were for the rodeo, and if anybody could win “money the hard way”. Even though this rodeo was muddy, we still had the calf scramble for the kiddos and I HAD to join in! I was on kid un-sticking duty and had to do a little digging through the mud to find a few pairs of shoes, but everybody left with all their belongings and rodeo mud as a souvenir. After the Fort Scott Rodeo, the Hamptons and I both were off to Shawnee, Oklahoma for the International Finals Youth Rodeo.
The first performance of the IFYR Sunday in Shawnee came fast and the excitement was in the air. The richest youth rodeo in the world was underway with three arenas going at once. I had the honor to carry the American flag on Brandon Harris’s (pickup man) horse during the opening ceremony. Abigail Benz, media personnel for the IPRA, and I gathered contestants to do quick interviews with throughout the night. Even with three arenas going at once, the rodeo lasted for two hours! After driving all day and rodeoing through the night, I was ready for bed when the rodeo finished. Monday morning came early with the morning performance at 9 am. Each day, there is a morning and evening performance. In between performances, two of the youth board directors and I had the opportunity to speak at the Shawnee Rotary Club on how we got into rodeo, and our future plans inside the industry and out. In conjunction with the IFYR, there was a Miss Rodeo TEEN USA pageant, making history for the Miss Rodeo USA association and the IPRA. The girls checked in Monday night and settled their horses in during the nighttime performance. Tuesday morning I somehow managed to convince the announcers Jeff and Monty to let me help out in the crows nest announcing and writing times. They both were infatuated with my annunciation of Huntsville, Alabama. After the morning performance, I was able to join in and say “hi” to the 16 young ladies competing for the Teen title at the Shawnee mall where they had impromptu questions, interview and written test. Seeing a few familiar faces from Alabama was a treat, but meeting all the young ladies from across the country and getting to know them throughout the whole pageant was special. The contestants joined in for Tuesday night’s performance carrying sponsor flags during the opening ceremony. The girls were expected to be at each performance to fulfill their job of carrying sponsor flags as well as daily portions of the competition. Wednesday after the morning performance, I dropped off the horse Brandon Harris let me ride and he stopped me as I was walking away and asked if I had any of that “glitter stuff” for Friday night’s championship go around. I told him I didn’t have any, but I could get some ASAP! His daughter Harley and I were in brainstorm mode for what we could do to “Percy”, a Percheron and mustang cross. Wednesday was a “fun” day for the girls, judges and myself as we joined together for a paint party courtesy of Tish Ross. A few of the girls and I found out there was glitter and were able to spice up our paintings with a little bit of sparkle! One of the helpers asked us if we would like any, we all three looked at each other and said, “yes please!” You do not tell a rodeo Queen you have glitter, and expect them to turn it down. Wednesday evening’s performance was unique and special to the state of Oklahoma and rodeo. Governor Kevin Stitt carried the flag during the opening ceremony and national anthem. It was such an honor to have him there, showing he cared for rodeo, the youth and the impact they both have on the future of our country. Thursday was a big day for the contestants in the rodeo and the pageant. The top cowboys and cowgirls were battling it out in the final go around before championship day, and those not competing were shopping at the expo center where you could find any and everything rodeo and equine related. From clothes, hats, tack and even jerky, the expo had so many vendors that you could get lost in it! A huge shoutout to Drake with Shorty’s Caboy Hattery for touching up my American Hats and the girl’s. The rodeo queen contestants had to prep and get ready for speeches and modeling at the Ritz in Shawnee after the morning performance. To say I was excited to put on my brand new dress made by Brooke Wallace (Miss Rodeo USA 2020) and red Lane Boots was an understatement! Brooke truly worked wonders on my dress. I showed her a picture of a rock I found in a museum, and she brought it to life in the design of my dress. All the girls did wonderful through their speeches and looked stunning. Sherry Smith Photography, the official photographer and videographer for the pageant, was able to capture beautiful memories for each young lady. After speeches, the judging for the Queen contestants was complete, and they all relaxed a little more. Thursday night’s performance was fun, fun, fun for the girls as they were relieved to make it through the week. Friday morning’s performance had the top competitors in the final go before championship round and everybody was on the edge of their seat watching each event. There were record times including a 1.7 in breakaway! The youth of our industry are true rockstars. The Queen contestants and committee had lunch at Farmers Daughter where we got to fellowship and release some pre-coronation nerves.
Friday might have been my favorite day because it meant- glitter! Miss Harley, Brandon’s daughters and I went to town with the red, white, and blue glitter and ribbons throughout Percys mane, tail and whole body. Hairspray and glitter were flying but the final product turned out fabulous! Once Percy was ready for showtime. I was off to the coronation of the first ever Miss Teen Rodeo USA. I danced with the girls in line up and joked with them to help relieve any nerves. They all looked beautiful and cheered each other on as the awards were announced. Congratulations to Lana Carter for being the first ever Miss Teen Rodeo USA and all the young ladies who competed. After coronation, it was the championship round for the IFYR. The world champions for each event were crowned immediately after the rodeo, and the all-around cowboy and cowgirl were awarded their NRS Trailer.
I am now making my way through Arkansas; keep an eye out for my next blog to hear about my time with Sherry Smith in Lincoln and Hampton Rodeo Company in Huntsville, Arkansas for the 24th Annual Madison County Pro Rodeo!
After a few days rest after The Old Frontier Days Rodeo in Thomson, Georgia, I was back on the Georgia highway to Blairsville for the 10th Annual Blairsville Rodeo. Thursday evening there was a town market where over 60 vendors were set up. I met with Art Miller, one of the rodeo chairman, and Alysia Hargus, local and past IFR photographer and enjoyed the wide range of vendors including lemonade, real estate, boutiques and my favorite- the rodeo booth! The people of Blairsville were ecstatic to see the rodeo back in town and many already had advanced sale tickets. Once we were finished with the event, Art, his wife Debbie, and I stopped by a local Mexican restaurant before heading to the house. Debbie and Art were gracious enough to let me come crash at their place for the weekend and I was welcomed by three of the happiest dogs on Earth! Friday morning Art and I were off to the arena for a Facebook Live with the Chamber of Commerce Steve Rowe. We were joined by Dillion Gross-one of the coolest announcers, and talked about the rodeo and what the weekend would look like. Blairsville Professional Rodeo is in a covered riding arena that the local saddle club uses during the summer as well, so regardless of weather conditions, people can enjoy a dry night of rodeo action. After stopping by Chick-fil-a for lunch (another AMAZING sponsor), it was time to get ready for the rodeo. Circle N Rodeo, along with Hedrick Rodeo Company were hard at work making sure stock and workers were ready for the night’s performance. Along with the standard rodeo events, Blairsville Pro. Rodeo has a drill team presentation, trick riding, kids’gold rush, kids and women’s calf scramble, steer dressin’, a horseshoe toss to win brand new truck, and a drawing to win a pair of Durango Boots. To say we had a full night ahead was an understatement!
The rodeo began with the Kids Gold Rush, and once I was finished helping wrangle the ‘littles’ back to their parents,I rushed to my horse for the opening ceremony. The rodeo started with Sass- n- Saddles Drill Team doing a presentation, then went into the official opening ceremony where I was honored to lead with the American flag,followed by each branch of the military and a first responder’s flag. Once we stood at post, USAF First Sergeant Matthew Miller led a group of service men and women along with a flag pole and raised the American flag while Dillion Gross shared “The Ragged Old Flag”. There was not a single person seated as the ceremony proceeded, and by the end of the national anthem, people were cheering loudly for our country. The patriotism displayed at our sport is something that always gives me chills. Throughout the night, I ran victory laps along with a drill team member and the winner of each event. It was such a joy to have another girl with me behind the chutes to sing along to songs and enjoy the rodeo!
Saturday morning at the rodeo arena, it has become tradition that we have a big breakfast for all the rodeo workers, staff and families. We enjoyed some of the best handmade biscuits and gravy along with fresh fruit, and of course bacon! It was a great time getting to relax with everybody and enjoy each other’s company. Saturday night the crowd turnout was astonishing, even with a little rain. After another heart- felt ceremony, it was rodeo time. Dillion and clown entertainment Heath “The Dancing Cajun” were at it again making the crowd laugh and inform them on the rodeo. It was another great rodeo where I added many great memories. Thank you to Blairsville Professional Rodeo for welcoming me with smiles and open arms.
Packed down and loaded after the Limestone Sheriffs Rodeo, I made my way to Richmond, Kentucky for the Madison County Pro Rodeo put on by Spurn S and JR Drake. I started my time in Richmond Thursday doing a radio interview with local station “The Coyote” and got to talk about not only the upcoming rodeo, but also how rodeo is a family event where whether you are a seasoned spectator, or it’s your first, you’ll have a blast! After my radio interview, JR and I spent the evening at Texas Roadhouse, one of the main sponsors for the rodeo. I passed out free kids tickets and autograph sheets, and answered questions people might have had about the rodeo or for me! One family I met even had a graduate from the University of Alabama and we shared a “Roll Tide” before saying bye. The majority of people I spoke to had not ever been to a rodeo before, but by the end of our conversation, they had their nights cleared so they could make it! Friday morning there wasn’t anything scheduled for me to do, so I joined in at the arena helping set up for the night’s performance. While helping set up at the T-shirt and toy tent, the Madison County Firetrucks came in to hose down the arena. After watching the boys struggle to hold the hose for a few minutes, one of the women who work at the tent dared me to go up and ask if they needed help. Without skipping a beat, I walked up and asked! Sure enough, they took a break and let me handle wetting the arena down for a little. I will say, it was not as easy as it looked but it was still a blast! Once the arena was worked, it was time to move cow. I joined in on horseback with Ronnie, Wes and my new favorite little cowboy Ren. Ren and I determined we were the better team pushing cows and could go pro. Once the cows were taken care of, it was time for me to get rodeo ready. The first performance was such a hit that Saturday we brought in more bleachers! At the rodeo there werepony rides, toys and shirts from the Swag Tent and a tent set up for Line-X, another big sponsor to the rodeo. Line-X had corn hole and goodies for people to enjoy before the rodeo and during. After talking with the Line-X workers Friday night, I was excited to spend Saturday morning there for free burgers and pony rides. The bullfighters, pick up men and the one and only Mighty Mike Wentworth joined me at Line-X for meet and greets. Although this is technically work, we always have time for fun, and I joined in with a few kids playing corn hole. I told them to go easy on me because I do not really play, or know what I am doing. I spoke too soon because I ended up being 3-0 with different people on my team each time! We all decided after my year as Miss Rodeo USA, I needed to join a corn hole league. I had a quick break to eat, then it was time to rodeo! The final performance of the Madison County Pro Rodeo could not have gone better. Even with bringing in extra bleachers there were people standing to watch the rodeo. The stock, cowboys and entertainment were all top quality and put on a show everybody loved. Thank you to Jon, Wes and JR for letting me be a part of this event!
I had a week until my next event in Hiwassee, Georgia and found residence with the Hedrick’s of Hedrick Rodeo Company for a few days before my time in Georgia. I told them whatever they needed help with I was willing to try, and they took that seriously! I learned how to work a skid steer and excavator and helped with dirt work on the farm. When I told my Mom, she said “Oh no! Please do not break anything your insurance doesn’t cover this!” After a few (maybe several) learning curves, they set me loose and had me work on my own. I would not say I amready for hire, but I didn’t break anything! Along with learning machinery, I helped bring in hay.
After working with the Hedricks for a few days, I was off to Hiwassee to Southern Rodeo Company and their rodeo located next to a lake. Friday when I arrived, I sawmany familiar faces, along with many new ones. As the start of the rodeo got closer, we noticed the weather was quickly shifting from warm and sunny to cloudy. The forecast called for rain, rain and more rain all night! About 20 minutes before start time, it came a monsoon and my old and new friends all huddled under the announcers tent together. A few of us made a run for the truck after a 20-minute delay was announced. We snacked on pretzels and hoped for the rain to let off enough so we could rodeo. Whether rain or shine, rodeos still go on! After a 45-minute delay, we started the rodeo. The rodeo fans in Hiwassee are something special, because several stayed in the rain waiting for the rodeo to begin, and those that went to their car came back. It was not a sold out night, but the stands were filled with enthusiastic spectators who were there because of their love for rodeo. Saturday we could not have asked for a better turn out. The weather was perfect, especially in comparison to the night before. Before the rodeo began, photographer Warren Petty and I grabbed a horse and walked over to a baseball field right next to the arena. Warren and I were joined by another cowgirl and cowboy and the three of us helped each other wrangle horses and wind to get the perfect shot. The rodeo began as scheduled, and the night went on thanks to Robin Brooks and his crew. Dusty Myers (the rodeo clown) and David Sharp (the announcer) kept the crowd entertained and informed throughout the night. They worked great together and the crowd loved them! Although it was muddy, there was still stiff competition and the times and scores in each event were competitive.
Once the night ended, I said my goodbyes and left,excited for my next rodeo with Southern Rodeo Companyin Shady Dale, Georgia this next weekend. After Shady Dale, I’ll be back with the Hedrick Rodeo Company in Thompson, Georgia. As always, keep an eye out for me in my Ariat denim, Lane boots and American Hat! If you see me, holler!
Being back home in the rocket city dif not mean a break for me. I had a few days to spend with my family and help a few younger queens get ready for Limestone Sheriff’s Rodeo week. Then Friday and Saturday night I spent my time in Attalla, Alabama with the Double Creek Rodeo Company for the Etowah County Rodeo. My friend from home joined me on the rodeo road for the weekend. I was surprised to see so many familiar faces during the rodeo including both competitors and spectators. A few sash sisters competed in barrel racing, and I was able to meet new young ladies and share my rodeo queening experiences with them. After the Attalla Rodeo, I said my goodbyes and was back on the road to get ready for Limestone Rodeo week.
Rodeo week in Athens, Alabama starts the Saturday before the rodeo with a parade on the square. A specialthank you to Allen Craig for letting me borrow “Buck” for the parade. The following Monday was “Kick off into Rodeo Week” at the Limestone Sheriff’s Rodeo Arena where there were free pony rides, karaoke, face painting, vendor booths, and carriage rides. Thank you to Stan Smith for letting me take over the wagon rides for a few rounds during the evening. Tuesday Abigail Benz, 2020 Miss Limestone Sheriff’s Rodeo, 2020 Little Miss Limestone OraLee Madison, Mighty Mike Wentworth- the rodeo clown, and I started our morning early with school visits. Later that evening was the iconic street dance! The Limestone Sheriff’s Rodeo street dance is an event I have been going to for ten years now and it is always the highlight of my year. From two stepping to the cowboy cha-cha to swing dancing and line dancing,the Limestone Street dance is an event where everyone can feel included. My family came out to enjoy the dance and fashion show where the queens showcased their western fashion forward outfits. I decided to go ‘full USA’ and wear my red white and blue Lane boots with black leather pants and black leather shell, topped off with my favorite red leather Scully T-shirt jacket and trusty white American Hat. After a night of dancing, Wednesday morning we were all off to school visits again and we added 2020 Jr. Miss Limestone Anna Leigh. Thursday morning, Abigail, Sheriff Blakely and I were joined by two contestants in the Miss division for a radio segment. Abigail and I were able to promote not only rodeo, but also rodeo queening and the friendships made that will last a lifetime. After visiting with the radio station, we stopped by the Spring Park for a Senior Citizens Park Day and played with baby ducks, and grown ones too .Once we were finished making our rounds at the booths and vendors at the park, it was time for us to go to watch‘slack’. Slack is a part of the rodeo where the overflow of competitors who are not in the performance compete. Friday was not only the first performance of the rodeo,but also the first day of the Miss and Sr. Miss division for the rodeo Queen pageant. Friday’s performance was a sell-out. Although Limestone has been voted the largest outdoor rodeo of the year several years in a row, this was the biggest crowd I had ever seen! Abigail and I took turns running sponsorship flags throughout the rodeo performance and had a blast. The horsemanship portion of the queen’s contest started bright and early Saturday morning. My trainer Judy Darnell brought a horse for Abigail to set the pattern on, and they surprised me with one of my favorite horses, Tater, who I have not had the opportunity to ride in months. The final judged event for the girls was the Luncheon. The Limestone Luncheon is a fundraiser for the queen’s pageant, where the Miss contestants share their speech, model, and answer impromptu rodeo and personality questions. The luncheon has always been a highlight to me because it allows the girls to showcase their skills in front of an audience. The final rodeo performance and coronation for the new Miss Limestone Sheriff’s rodeo was shortly after the luncheon. The rodeo sold out Saturday night, and for the first time in quite some time had to turn people away.
Each night of the rodeo, before the opening ceremony,there was a special segment in honor of Debbie Blakely. Queens, as well as her family placed a rose on a saddle while a riderless horse was led around the arena. Debbie was not only the pageant director and Sheriff’s wife, but also a coach to championship basketball and volleyball teams, a friend and mentor to many. Debbie helped me personally throughout my years as a younger division titleholder and taught me about not only rodeo queening but life. Debbie was a person who loved everybody and treated all with the same kindness and love that she showed her own family. Being a part of the Limestone Rodeo as Miss Rodeo USA was a dream come true for me, and I cannot wait to go back as a spectator or competitor in future years.
Keep your eyes open in the Richmond, Kentucky and Hiwassee, Georgia the next two weekends! I will be in myAmerican Hat, Ariat jeans and Lane boots, on the road and in the arena.