“I said Georgia, oh Georgia, no peace I find. Just an old sweet song that keeps Georgia on my mind.”
Georgia has definitely been on my mind as I’ve traveled from Grovetown, Thomson, Augusta, to Statesboro and everything in between. The “Peach State” has certainly been kind to this Alabama cowgirl and the best part, every rodeo was a complete sell out!
After spending four wonderful days at home, and obtaining my truck back from the wrap shop, I set out for Grovetown, GA at 3 a.m. that Saturday morning. I arrived to a filled park with hundreds of kiddos who were ready to hunt Easter Eggs, have their picture made with the Easter Bunny and me. If you were keeping up with my travels on social media you noticed that Ed, my horsey Easter Basket, joined along for the ride and was able to be a part of all the Easter Egg hunting fun! We later wrapped up the day and jumped straight in to my favorite of them all, Cowboy Church bright and early Easter Sunday morning. He is Risen indeed. The stone was rolled away and the Lord provided us with one of the most beautiful days I had ever experienced. I was blessed with the opportunity to speak at Cowboy Church that morning and again saw the Lord’s handy work unfold. It was there that the week truly began to take shape.
I often say that “you never know who you may be helping” and that we often “entertain angels unaware.” This definitely was one of those moments. After speaking at Cowboy Church, I was told one of the most heartbreaking yet refreshing stories that I’ve ever heard.
Earlier that morning I had passed 4 crosses on the side of the roadway and right then and there, I felt like the Lord told me to speak on our Purpose, Perspective, Prayer, Power and how they all intertwine to help us achieve our dreams. Later that afternoon, well after I had spoken at church, I was told that that exact location was where one of the sons of the Pastor and his wife were killed in a car wreck just about a year ago. Talk about God using a moment and person in time to convey a message. I believe it not only spoke to me during this time, but also the community that surrounded this beautiful family. I definitely believe this was “God moment” that set the stage for the remainder of the week.
We spent a good portion of our week visiting with sponsors and even stopped by iHeart Radio and Channel 12, the main television station of Augusta, GA. to promote the rodeo and concert that would be taking place each night with Tanner Fussell and Taylor Smith. As fate would have it, I would later join them on the arena floor for a couple of songs, and my newly wrapped truck would be on full display as their stage. Wow, talk about a dreamcatcher weekend.
Overall, I spent 8 days in Grovetown and was thrilled to have had the opportunity to meet so many individuals who believed in their community and town so much that they were ready to bring the rodeo back again this year. Ironically, I’ll be less than 20 minutes away from Grovetown at another rodeo they are producing in June, so I can’t wait to see what’s in store!
Come Sunday morning, I packed everything in the truck and began a short trek down to Statesboro, GA where another busy but fun-filled week was in store. Now, there are always stories from every place I visit, but I feel there are definitely some that need to be told… and this was just the beginning!
Monday morning, we kicked things off in true Statesboro fashion. Busy week with meetings starting bright and early followed by a jam-packed day of appearances, sponsor visits, and whatever else we could stack in between. All-in-all, it was a successful and productive day given that I was battling laryngitis. As Tuesday rolled around, I ended up needing to visit the local Urgent Care to address my sore throat, weak voice, and eventually what was the start of an inner ear infection. (I promise there’s a great story here.) Upon leaving the doctor’s office, Ms. Martha and Mr. Frank, (the most amazing two individuals you will ever meet on the face of this earth.) escorted me to the pharmacy to pick up my medications. Here’s where the week took a little turn. After returning three different times to obtain my medicine, Ms. Martha had, as I call it “a come apart” so we later sent Ashlee to pick up my prescriptions as I had to be at another meeting that afternoon. Side Note: The entire Kiwanis club now uses the phrase “a come apart,” because they had never heard that used before. We proceeded to our afternoon meetings and on to the Brooklet Kiwanis Dinner where I was scheduled to speak that evening. At the conclusion of the evening, I had my medicine in hand, had just completed another phenomenal speaking engagement and was ready to make my way back to the hotel to rest and prepare for another great day. Well, one of Brooklet’s finest pulled Mr. Frank over for failure to use a turn signal in a private parking-lot 2 seconds after we pulled out of the Kiwanis meeting. (Insert a thud or dramatic sound effect to capture the moment.) At this point in the day, I think all I could do was laugh! It was one of those, “you had to be there” moments to experience all of the emotions at once. I will say, we made good humor of it at the Wednesday Kiwanis meeting as Ashlee had printed several WANTED posters for Mr. Frank and Ms. Martha. It was a giant hit!
There are so many stories from Statesboro that it would almost take a book to tell them all, but there is one additional story I feel that needs to be told. On Friday night, we all were reminded of why we do what we do as we honored a very special cowboy on the arena floor. Mr. Brandon Ennis, who was diagnosed with Down Syndrome at an early age, joined the entire Hedrick Rodeo crew and I on the arena floor to help make his dreams come true! That evening, Brandon became an honorary World Champion Cowboy with Hedrick Pro Rodeo and was able to send a “tip of the hat” to his fans and audience in attendance. Whew. Talk about hitting all of the emotions at once. Brandon and his mom unfortunately lost his dad due to complications with Covid-19 but still carried a hope and light that showed everywhere they went that evening. Talk about the hope and calling on our lives that the Lord gives and shows us if we are willing to listen.
Honestly, I am a quarter of the way through my reign and I’ve never felt more at home and in the moment than I do now. This journey has opened so many doors and provided opportunities that the Lord could only put in to motion.
If I have to leave you all with a word of advice on this blog, it would be to look for the opportunities God puts in front of you. They are there, we just have to be able to recognize them and act on them as He would have us do.
I look forward to seeing you all on the rodeo trail again soon! I’m currently spending a few days at Sherry Smith’s for some photoshoots, and quite frankly to re-energize my body, spirit, and mind. (Ms. Sherry has the most amazing space to do all of this in and capture amazing shots!) As we close in on another journey, here’s to being a dreamcatcher!
Until we meet on the trail again,
Jessie Lynn Nichols
Miss Rodeo USA 2022
Dream. A word we commonly associate with sleep, décor, and occasionally life or career goals, but why is it just occasionally? Why do we not “dream” all of the time? Do we become so engrossed in the everyday hustle and bustle of life that we ourselves forget to dream and think outside the box? I would venture to say yes. We often become so entranced in our everyday routine that we often find ourselves on autopilot just trying to make it through another work day, week, or weekend. There never is a time for the dreamer to live a “dreamers dream…” but you know what the best part is? You can still catch your dreams and goals even in the midst of all the hustle and bustle!
Over the past few weeks I have traveled to Brunswick, GA. Dallas, Fort Worth, Bowie, and Decatur Texas as well as Sandersville, GA. all within a span of 3 weeks. Whew, talk about busy! You want to know what the best part about every hour, minute, and second spent on the road is? It’s one more hour, minute, and second invested in to someone else’s dream, goals, and spiritual walk with the Lord. It’s then and there that I realize, I’m living a dreamer’s dream.
Some of the places I have been blessed to visit almost seem like a dream of their own. My first stop landed me right in the heart of the “Golden Isles” of Brunswick, GA for Rodeo at the Beach! The stringent smell of the swamp marsh land mixed with the sweet aroma of the blooming magnolia trees made for one of the most beautiful and diverse places I’ve ever visited.
During the first half of my stay, I visited the many sponsors who have been long-time supporters of “Rodeo at the Beach” including the presenting sponsor, Stambaugh Aviation. I must say, this was by far one of the most interesting and amazing sponsor visits I’ve ever been a part of. What was even more exciting is I had received a phone call from the Cowboy Channel asking if I would be willing to help them in obtaining footage and interviews for a new segment that they are starting called “My Hometown Rodeo,” set to air in May. Well of course, I said yes and knew that one of my interviews had to be with JR and Scott, the owners of Stambaugh Aviation.
Later that week, we kicked off the rodeo weekend in true rodeo fashion with a mechanical bull riding competition between the teachers and principals from the surrounding schools. Needless to say, we were all in stiches! We wrapped the weekend up with a visit to Jekyll Island for a dolphin tour and then took a ride on the beach with four of our winners on Sea Island. It was a trip to remember.
Upon leaving the “Golden Isles,” I returned home on Sunday March 20th and immediately left out on a flight Monday morning headed to Dallas/ Fort Worth for Market. After a few tornados, a reroute through Houston, to finally landing at DFW around 10:30 p.m., I had arrived and was ready to meet some of our amazing Miss Rodeo USA sponsors. The following morning started bright and early as we met with Mr. Wayne from C. Warren and Associates for breakfast at the Market Café. During our visit, he presented me with my brand new Ropin West Luggage Set and the matching cosmetics case. Talk about excited!
We spent two days at the World Trade Center visiting with new and current sponsors with our third day being spent visiting American Hat Company, The Best Hat Store, and NRS! If you have never been to market in Dallas, it is an experience that you have to “be there” to understand the overwhelming excitement and magnitude of it all. Still think I’m living the dream? I do!
I returned to Alabama on Friday March 25th and was back on the road Sunday March 27th heading to the 61st Annual Opp Rattlesnake Rodeo with Co-Captain Star (A Star in the Rodeo) in tow for meet n greets. We had an absolute blast and couldn’t have asked for prettier weather. I even held a Diamond-Back Rattlesnake!
On Tuesday March 29th I found myself back in the driver’s seat headed to Sandersville, GA. for the 3rd Annual Washington County Farm Bureau Rodeo. If I’m being honest, I have had the best rodeo committees a girl could ask for. Upon my arrival, I was able to meet with Mr. Eddy Turner, the chair of the rodeo committee, and we discussed plans for the days ahead and what all we would be doing.
Wednesday, I had the opportunity to visit and speak to five different school groups in three different schools and speak to the First Baptist Church Youth Group later that evening. By far one of the most amazing dreamcatcher experiences I’ve ever had.
Thursday evening, I had the opportunity to speak at our Gold Sponsor Dinner and all I can say is wow. The response I received from speaking that evening left me with the most amazing sense of gratitude and humbleness that again you can only experience in a “dreamers dream.” I was even asked to sing “Walking After Midnight” for everyone.
Friday, I visited the Old Jail and Genealogy Research Center in Sandersville and the best part, they opened early just so I could come in and visit. Ms. Kayla, Loretta, Mr. David, and Mr. Parrish were an absolute joy to visit with. They even requested a private concert featuring “Crazy” by Patsy Cline. Must have been a Classic Country kind of week! Want to talk about a plethora of history all in one location... this was it! Later that evening, we kicked off the first sold out performance of rodeo weekend. Little did we know Saturday was going to be even bigger! The question here is, are catching your dreams and seeing the amount of opportunities that are made available to us if we take the time to recognize them?
I’m often asked what it is like to be Miss Rodeo USA and how stressful is it to have everyone needing a piece of my time, calendar, or attention and how do I maintain it all. The funny thing is, my job and duties as Miss Rodeo USA maintain me, and it’s all thanks to two little words: investment and dream. Investment. Merriam Webster defines Investment as “an act of devoting time, effort, or energy to a particular undertaking with the expectation of a worthwhile result.” My investment in to my “job” provides me with opportunities that open doors for my dreams to become reality. Not to mention the numerous doors it opens for the individuals I come in to contact with.
There are a multitude of stories I could tell to convey this point but there’s one in particular that stands out to me and made me completely stop in my tracks and say, “that’s a God moment.” While Tish, Jody, and I were meandering through the Fort Worth stock yards we came across an extremely young but talented female singer who was accompanied by no more than her tracked music and a single microphone. Her name was Sophia and she later told the crowd that she was just 11 years old! I noticed she was performing strictly for tip money so I walked up, placed a $20 bill in her bucket, and spoke to her father who had just come off the stage from performing a duet with her. I asked about Sophia’s history and found out that her mother was addicted to methamphetamine when she was born and that she had been adopted by the gentleman and his wife not long after. We spoke for quite some time and he asked would I sing a song with her. Without hesitation I said yes and next thing I knew, Sophia and I were performing “Does He Love You” in front of a packed crowd in the Fort Worth Stockyards. The most amazing experience of my life reflected an image of myself at age 11. It was like looking in a mirror with a sign that said, “Invest Here.” The ironic portion of this story is, I cut my first demo at 11 and have had individuals invest in me since day one. Wow!
The “Dreamers Dream…” A rare and fine occasion where one lives out the dreams he or she once dreamed of. There are dreams and goals everywhere, it’s a matter of do you recognize them and the opportunities that tag along with them. Get out there and be an investor of dreams. They’re waiting!
Until we meet on the trail again,
Jessie Lynn Nichols
Miss Rodeo USA 2022