As we begin to wrap up the Labor Day Weekend, and the big Summer run, I am reminded as to the reason why we pursue dreams, goals, and crazy ideas that may seem completely out of reach… Others. Everything we see, do, touch, and ultimately have an impact on, is for the other person standing across the way that others may not see but you do. It’s all a “labor of love.”
The last time we met on the trail, I was preparing to travel to Huntsville, AR for one of the coolest and most amazing IPRA rodeos I’ve been blessed to be a part of. Not to mention, the Huntsville, AR rodeo is well known in the Miss Rodeo USA Association for its fair share of stories and experiences that each Miss Rodeo USA leaves with year after year. Needless to say, we had a ball and it was a week to remember!
Once I left Huntsville, AR I made my way down to Ozark, AR to prepare for the 2022 Miss Rodeo USA Clinic! Keep in mind, at this point in my journey, I had been on the road for four solid weeks straight. I was able to meet up with Tish and Jody at our campground for the week, that is until it was time to move over to the fairgrounds, and we were able to knock out a few things before our weekend truly began.
Thursday evening, we welcomed everyone over to our Lakota horse trailer, and started our clinic weekend the right way with a full-blown cookout. Ok, so I may have frantically ran around town all day to find a gas line because I left mine back in Alabama four weeks prior but ultimately it was Jody who saved the day and brought out their 32’ Blackstone Cooktop for the cookout win! 8lbs of Hamburger meat and a full case of Costco hotdogs later, everyone was full and ready to kick things off at the clinic the following morning.
Friday morning had finally arrived, and so had our participants and observers for the MRUSA 22’ Clinic! Talk about a jam-packed day with no room to spare on the day’s planned activities. I was blessed to go from speaking as a clinician, to going full on producer and sound engineer mode by the time 1 o’clock rolled around. Later that evening, my band members had arrived and we were ready to rock n roll with a full concert for all of our participants, observers and the residents of the Ozark area. Ms. Kelsey Baker kicked things off for us at 7:30 followed by our set at 8:00 p.m. It was truly a night to remember! Oh yeah, and hot…. EXTREMELY HOT!
As my band and I packed everything away that evening/ morning we all rolled in to bed around 1 a.m. but was back up and at em at 6:30 that morning. For what you may ask? We had a full day of Horsemanship to do! Did I mention that’s my favorite portion of a rodeo queen’s pageant? So we were all back in the classroom ready to learn and ride some amazing patterns with some 5 Star Quarter Horse’s and some volunteers who brought their horses as well so all of our participants had a mount to ride. Wow, what an amazing day. To see what these young ladies accomplish in 6 hours is truly amazing.
Later that evening, we were able to go downtown and have a mock fashion show. The best part about this portion of the clinic is that, not only were the girls given a sponsor outfit from TC’s Vintage Soul to model, but they were able to pick and choose what accessories to put with it and gain some insight as to what it would be like at a national level pageant where you are given an outfit and have to show that outfit off to the best of your abilities. Truly a game changer in the world of hosting a clinic and seeing the return of the investment made in each young lady.
As Sunday rolled in to play, it was time for some hair, makeup, and of course our mock pageant. When I say that I was truly blown away by how far each young lady had come in their journey from Friday to Sunday morning, I mean I was blown away. If any of the young ladies had asked me or any of the board members for advice, they took it and ran with it all the way. I was thrilled to see young ladies who were maybe timid or shy at the beginning of the week begin to come out of their shell and showcase their true personality on and off the stage. At the end of the day, the weekend was a huge success. From our guest clinicians, speakers, sponsor presentations, a live concert, fun filled days and more, it truly was a sight to see when everything was all said and done.
As my mom, grandmother and I loaded the last bit of cargo on to the trailer, we all couldn’t help but reminisce on the memories that had just been made for, not only us, but each young lady and observer who had the chance to be a part of the weekend. We got in, pointed the truck “east bound and down,” and began our journey home. The funny part is, I would only be home for approximately 14 hours before I would get back on the road to leave again. This time, it would be to travel down to Florida to obtain a few more diving certifications before shoving off to Rome, GA.
Advanced Open Water, Nitrox, and Rescue Diver all complete. It was time to head on up to Rome, GA and have some fun with my Southern Pro Rodeo Family. As I was driving to Rome, I came across some landmarks that seemed familiar and I was racking my brain trying to jog my memory as to why this all seemed familiar… Oh yeah, it’s where I had purchased my truck just the year before! What a coincidence. Not to mention they were a sponsor of the rodeo and hopefully will be on board as the presenting sponsor next year. Talk about fate. As the rodeo weekend ended, I began planning my trip to Blue Ridge, GA for the next rodeo weekend. This is where the story gets interesting.
As I made my way to Blue Ridge, I was in absolute awe of the countryside and how beautiful of a drive it really was on the way there. Upon my arrival to Blue Ridge, I was following my GPS to what I thought was the campground but later found myself on a mountain side road with a 50’ + size rig with nowhere to turn around. “This is gonna be fun,” I thought to myself and finally managed a way to back the trailer into a nearby driveway and turn it around without dropping it off the ravine on my left of the truck off the hillside that was on my right. Quite an interesting day for sure. I finally arrived safe and sound as was ready to take on the week/weekend.
The next day I met with Alysa Hargus, who you all may know as the official photographer from IFR 51’ and 52’ and we had an absolute blast. She took me around, showed me the sights, and of course showed me some of the best restaurants in town. Finally, it was time to rodeo and boy did we rodeo. We kicked things off Friday morning with the Special Needs Rodeo followed by a jam-packed performance that night. The next morning, Beth Weldon and I decided to go white water rafting on the Ocoee River. Was by far one of the best experiences of my life! You can see some of our photos on the Miss Rodeo USA Instagram page.
As that rodeo weekend came to a close, we wrapped everything up, dried off, because it poured rain that night, and began the trek back home to sweet home Alabama. Once I made it to the house, I was able to spend a few days resting and recouping before heading off to Edgefield, SC.
Talk about being treated like royalty, Ms. Sandy and her rodeo committee had me at one of the neatest ranches I had ever seen in my life. The home place itself was absolutely gorgeous and the owner’s, Mr. Paul and Ms. Carolyn were just the sweetest couple you could ever meet. Their family came to join us for the weekend and boy did we evermore have a good time! Folks, they wouldn’t even let me lift a finger. They had hired help that unloaded my truck for me, took everything up to my floor, and that was on call if I ever needed them. When I say being treated like royalty, this was the place.
Ms. Sandy, the owner and producer of the rodeo was just the most amazing person I have ever had the pleasure to work for. She and I hit it right off and were cracking jokes before the weekend even got started. It was great!
Their presenting sponsor, Helios, was present each night and gave me the grand tour of their equine therapy facility. If you have not checked out their programs and range of therapy options for your equine partner, you need to. Holy smokes, what an operation!
I drove home late Saturday night, arrived home at around 3 a.m. and got some shut eye, because, as you know, I was going to be on the road again very soon!
As Labor Day weekend approached, it was time to head back down to Vortex Spring for the Labor Day Weekend Bash Celebration! What a celebration it was too! Diving, Music, Meet N Greets, Sponsor Item giveaways and more. It was a blast.
Well folks, at this point in the trail I believe it’s time to unsaddle, unwind, and prepare for the next time we meet.
Until we meet on the trail again,
Jessie Lynn Nichols
Miss Rodeo USA 2022