“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