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.
Page Page I may have to find residency in Georgia with how much I am traveling there! Statesboro definitely made me feel like I was at home with the welcoming staff at the Spring Hill Inn and Suites, along with the community as a whole. I started my week off right doing sponsor visits around town and meeting the people who support the rodeo. After visiting with a few sponsors in the morning, KC from KC Lashes did my eyelashes so I would be bright-eyed all week! The Statesboro Kiwanis Club Rodeo is a fundraiser for the children in the community and it was a truly special experience going to after school programs throughout the week and telling them about both the rodeo and my platform; “Mentoring Matters”. All the kids were excited for the rodeo and learned how they can be a superhero (mentor) by encouraging others to reach their goals. Meeting Freedom, the bald eagle, and other wildlife animals at the Georgia Southern wildlife refugee has made my top five memories of the year! When I was younger at the “birds of prey” shows, I always thought they were putting the birds on display for me to pick which one I wanted, and I always chose the bald eagle! Day in and day out, the Statesboro Kiwanis Club kept me busy meeting and visiting people and unique places in the area. The rodeo does all sorts of events in the community leading to the rodeo. There was a ribbon cutting, a day of recognition for the rodeo, and a day at the local western general store, Anderson’s, where we had a “guess the weight of the bull”! A few of the unique places we ate at was Vandy’s, a BBQ place that’s an iconic must stop restaurant in downtown Statesboro and Bull and Barrel, a steak house that had recently opened downtown. Both places did not disappoint. On Friday before the rodeo, Kiwanis President Ashley and I stopped by Sno in the Boro and picked up sno cones to surprise the rodeo and Kiwanis members prepping for the rodeo. We had two nights of SOLD OUT rodeo. Friday and Saturday night Rob Gann, the rodeo clown, and I were joined by a young lady named Ireland who has been living with a blood condition but is determined to live her life to the fullest! She has been a part of the rodeo for 5 years now and I was honored to get to spend time with her this weekend. Saturday before the rodeo, Rob and I cut loose a little and had a foot race after the gold rush. I’m not saying he won- but I want a rematch! All the advance tickets were sold before each performance began. After saying bye to my new Statesboro family, I was off to Wetumpka, Alabama for the FFA Alumni Rodeo.
Once arriving at my home for the week with Jamie, Ricky and Dani Loeb, I knew I was going to have a fun filled week. Dani is the first person from the state of Alabama to make the U.S Ski Team in Ariel skiing, and she’s only 19! Dani is from the Wetumpka area and joined in with school visits where we talked to kids about rodeo and shared a combination of our stories. Dani was told several times that she wouldn’t make it to where she is today because of where her athletic career began, as a gymnast, not an Ariel skier. However, she continued to work hard and is achieving the goals she has set. While talking to the kids about our stories, we worked in how I am the first generation cowgirl in my family thanks to the mentors in my life, and that no matter what your dream, goal or aspirations in life are, you can achieve it by being dedicated along with the importance of encouraging others. Dani and I did this all week and even got a boat ride in during some down time and saw a wild bald eagle nesting! During the rodeo Dani was a part of the famous TJ Williams specialty acts and recognized during the grand opening. Thank you to Sid McKissick for running around and putting up with Dani and me cutting up during rodeo week! Between the last two weeks, I have met and made some amazing people and I am honored to call them my friends now.
I am home in North Alabama and I am getting ready for the Attalla rodeo along with my “home-town” rodeo, the Limestone Sheriffs Rodeo! Keep an eye out on my Instagram and Facebook for pictures and real time updates on my travels!