My first rodeo as Miss Rodeo USA is officially in the books, thanks to the Shelby County Cattlemen’s Rodeo Association (SCCA). It was not my first time visiting this rodeo in Columbiana, just a few hours south of my hometown. When I held the Jr. Miss West Point title in 2017, I was able to attend the rodeo with 2017 Miss Rodeo USA Brittany Howard. After this experience, the SCCA fell in love with the idea of having their own rodeo queen competition. The following year they held their first-ever pageant, and of course I could not miss out on that fun! I competed for and won the new title of Sr. Miss SCCA, and had a blast throughout my reign. This made making my first official rodeo appearance as Miss Rodeo USA 2021 at this event even more special. Rodeo committee chairpersons Clifton and Ritcha Garret were kind enough to open their home to me for rodeo weekend. (They even picked up all of my favorite snacks).
After completing sponsor visits, we met up with the current Miss Shelby County Cattlemen’s Rodeo Dara Hay and Miss West Point Rodeo Michaela Cooper for lunch. As a self-proclaimed food connoisseur, I highly recommend the strawberry salad and mac-n-cheese from Longhorn Steakhouse. It was definitely a ten out of ten! After lunch, Dara and I went back to the Garret’s to get ready for the rodeo. We traded some queen ‘secrets’ during our sash sister time doing hair and makeup together: I helped Dara learn all about “queen wings” and she told me more about her experiences with horses. Dara is new to the rodeo queen world and asked all kinds of great questions about rodeo queening, my platform of Mentoring Matters, and about the Miss Rodeo USA Association. It was so nice getting to share my experience while making a new friend in the process.
Once we were finished getting ready, it was off to the rodeo! The first performance of the 33rd Annual Shelby County Cattlemen’s Rodeo was a huge success. Although they had to limit ticket sales due to COVID, they still had a SOLD OUT night. The Treadway Rodeo Company provided the stock and entertainment for the weekend. I knew I was learning the ropes from some of the best in the business, Ken and Pam Treadway and the flag girls of Treadway Rodeo Company. I was definitely in good hands for my first rodeo appearance as Miss Rodeo USA.
The first night was a learning curve, but by the end of Friday night, I was” rockin’ and rollin’” and ready for Saturday’s matinee and night performances. Saturday during the matinee performance we had yet another sold out crowd. My coach from The University of Alabama’s Equestrian team drove out to support a friend competing in barrels, which meant I got to catch up with her as well. My Mom and Stepdad were also able to make the drive down. It was their first time to see me in action as Miss Rodeo USA. My parents and longtime sash sister Jolye Durrett made sure I had water and pickle juice pops (or pickle-sickles, as Jolye likes to call them) in order to keep me hydrated throughout the weekend.
Once the matinee performance was over, it was time for BBQ. The other rodeo queens, Jolye, Ritcha and I packed into a car like sardines: we were all ready for some food! By the time we finished eating, it was time to rodeo one last time. Before mounting for the grand entry, I visited with a young mother, her daughter, and another young boy. After talking with the two children, I asked the mom how old the little boy was, and found out he did not belong to her. I then asked the boy where he came from, and his answer was, “my Momma”. We all cracked up laughing and he just continued to hang out with us. After a few minutes he started sniffing me – yes, sniffing me! I asked him if I smelled funny, to which he replied with a big ole, “Uh huh, you do!” I was shocked, to say the least. I asked what I smelled like, thinking he would say horses or cows, but he sniffed me again and said “pineapples” with a crinkled nose. Talk about never knowing what a child will say….
After that, it was time to hop on our horses and get ready for grand entry. I am so thankful for the Treadway Rodeo Company and their wonderful staff. They were all so kind and welcoming. I even got to swap some trick riding stories with the two trick riders who performed at the rodeo. One of the things I love most about rodeo and the western way of life is that you never meet a stranger. I am looking forward to working with the famous Treadway Rodeo Company again throughout my year and making more memories!
I am currently getting ready for my next rodeo (and considering trying out a different body spray so that I don’t smell like pineapple, since kids apparently don’t like that). Does anybody have any guesses as to where my next rodeo will be? Here is a hint: I will be soaking up the sunshine and salt water down south.