After a few days rest after The Old Frontier Days Rodeo in Thomson, Georgia, I was back on the Georgia highway to Blairsville for the 10th Annual Blairsville Rodeo. Thursday evening there was a town market where over 60 vendors were set up. I met with Art Miller, one of the rodeo chairman, and Alysia Hargus, local and past IFR photographer and enjoyed the wide range of vendors including lemonade, real estate, boutiques and my favorite- the rodeo booth! The people of Blairsville were ecstatic to see the rodeo back in town and many already had advanced sale tickets. Once we were finished with the event, Art, his wife Debbie, and I stopped by a local Mexican restaurant before heading to the house. Debbie and Art were gracious enough to let me come crash at their place for the weekend and I was welcomed by three of the happiest dogs on Earth! Friday morning Art and I were off to the arena for a Facebook Live with the Chamber of Commerce Steve Rowe. We were joined by Dillion Gross-one of the coolest announcers, and talked about the rodeo and what the weekend would look like. Blairsville Professional Rodeo is in a covered riding arena that the local saddle club uses during the summer as well, so regardless of weather conditions, people can enjoy a dry night of rodeo action. After stopping by Chick-fil-a for lunch (another AMAZING sponsor), it was time to get ready for the rodeo. Circle N Rodeo, along with Hedrick Rodeo Company were hard at work making sure stock and workers were ready for the night’s performance. Along with the standard rodeo events, Blairsville Pro. Rodeo has a drill team presentation, trick riding, kids’gold rush, kids and women’s calf scramble, steer dressin’, a horseshoe toss to win brand new truck, and a drawing to win a pair of Durango Boots. To say we had a full night ahead was an understatement!
The rodeo began with the Kids Gold Rush, and once I was finished helping wrangle the ‘littles’ back to their parents,I rushed to my horse for the opening ceremony. The rodeo started with Sass- n- Saddles Drill Team doing a presentation, then went into the official opening ceremony where I was honored to lead with the American flag,followed by each branch of the military and a first responder’s flag. Once we stood at post, USAF First Sergeant Matthew Miller led a group of service men and women along with a flag pole and raised the American flag while Dillion Gross shared “The Ragged Old Flag”. There was not a single person seated as the ceremony proceeded, and by the end of the national anthem, people were cheering loudly for our country. The patriotism displayed at our sport is something that always gives me chills. Throughout the night, I ran victory laps along with a drill team member and the winner of each event. It was such a joy to have another girl with me behind the chutes to sing along to songs and enjoy the rodeo!
Saturday morning at the rodeo arena, it has become tradition that we have a big breakfast for all the rodeo workers, staff and families. We enjoyed some of the best handmade biscuits and gravy along with fresh fruit, and of course bacon! It was a great time getting to relax with everybody and enjoy each other’s company. Saturday night the crowd turnout was astonishing, even with a little rain. After another heart- felt ceremony, it was rodeo time. Dillion and clown entertainment Heath “The Dancing Cajun” were at it again making the crowd laugh and inform them on the rodeo. It was another great rodeo where I added many great memories. Thank you to Blairsville Professional Rodeo for welcoming me with smiles and open arms.
Packed down and loaded after the Limestone Sheriffs Rodeo, I made my way to Richmond, Kentucky for the Madison County Pro Rodeo put on by Spurn S and JR Drake. I started my time in Richmond Thursday doing a radio interview with local station “The Coyote” and got to talk about not only the upcoming rodeo, but also how rodeo is a family event where whether you are a seasoned spectator, or it’s your first, you’ll have a blast! After my radio interview, JR and I spent the evening at Texas Roadhouse, one of the main sponsors for the rodeo. I passed out free kids tickets and autograph sheets, and answered questions people might have had about the rodeo or for me! One family I met even had a graduate from the University of Alabama and we shared a “Roll Tide” before saying bye. The majority of people I spoke to had not ever been to a rodeo before, but by the end of our conversation, they had their nights cleared so they could make it! Friday morning there wasn’t anything scheduled for me to do, so I joined in at the arena helping set up for the night’s performance. While helping set up at the T-shirt and toy tent, the Madison County Firetrucks came in to hose down the arena. After watching the boys struggle to hold the hose for a few minutes, one of the women who work at the tent dared me to go up and ask if they needed help. Without skipping a beat, I walked up and asked! Sure enough, they took a break and let me handle wetting the arena down for a little. I will say, it was not as easy as it looked but it was still a blast! Once the arena was worked, it was time to move cow. I joined in on horseback with Ronnie, Wes and my new favorite little cowboy Ren. Ren and I determined we were the better team pushing cows and could go pro. Once the cows were taken care of, it was time for me to get rodeo ready. The first performance was such a hit that Saturday we brought in more bleachers! At the rodeo there werepony rides, toys and shirts from the Swag Tent and a tent set up for Line-X, another big sponsor to the rodeo. Line-X had corn hole and goodies for people to enjoy before the rodeo and during. After talking with the Line-X workers Friday night, I was excited to spend Saturday morning there for free burgers and pony rides. The bullfighters, pick up men and the one and only Mighty Mike Wentworth joined me at Line-X for meet and greets. Although this is technically work, we always have time for fun, and I joined in with a few kids playing corn hole. I told them to go easy on me because I do not really play, or know what I am doing. I spoke too soon because I ended up being 3-0 with different people on my team each time! We all decided after my year as Miss Rodeo USA, I needed to join a corn hole league. I had a quick break to eat, then it was time to rodeo! The final performance of the Madison County Pro Rodeo could not have gone better. Even with bringing in extra bleachers there were people standing to watch the rodeo. The stock, cowboys and entertainment were all top quality and put on a show everybody loved. Thank you to Jon, Wes and JR for letting me be a part of this event!
I had a week until my next event in Hiwassee, Georgia and found residence with the Hedrick’s of Hedrick Rodeo Company for a few days before my time in Georgia. I told them whatever they needed help with I was willing to try, and they took that seriously! I learned how to work a skid steer and excavator and helped with dirt work on the farm. When I told my Mom, she said “Oh no! Please do not break anything your insurance doesn’t cover this!” After a few (maybe several) learning curves, they set me loose and had me work on my own. I would not say I amready for hire, but I didn’t break anything! Along with learning machinery, I helped bring in hay.
After working with the Hedricks for a few days, I was off to Hiwassee to Southern Rodeo Company and their rodeo located next to a lake. Friday when I arrived, I sawmany familiar faces, along with many new ones. As the start of the rodeo got closer, we noticed the weather was quickly shifting from warm and sunny to cloudy. The forecast called for rain, rain and more rain all night! About 20 minutes before start time, it came a monsoon and my old and new friends all huddled under the announcers tent together. A few of us made a run for the truck after a 20-minute delay was announced. We snacked on pretzels and hoped for the rain to let off enough so we could rodeo. Whether rain or shine, rodeos still go on! After a 45-minute delay, we started the rodeo. The rodeo fans in Hiwassee are something special, because several stayed in the rain waiting for the rodeo to begin, and those that went to their car came back. It was not a sold out night, but the stands were filled with enthusiastic spectators who were there because of their love for rodeo. Saturday we could not have asked for a better turn out. The weather was perfect, especially in comparison to the night before. Before the rodeo began, photographer Warren Petty and I grabbed a horse and walked over to a baseball field right next to the arena. Warren and I were joined by another cowgirl and cowboy and the three of us helped each other wrangle horses and wind to get the perfect shot. The rodeo began as scheduled, and the night went on thanks to Robin Brooks and his crew. Dusty Myers (the rodeo clown) and David Sharp (the announcer) kept the crowd entertained and informed throughout the night. They worked great together and the crowd loved them! Although it was muddy, there was still stiff competition and the times and scores in each event were competitive.
Once the night ended, I said my goodbyes and left,excited for my next rodeo with Southern Rodeo Companyin Shady Dale, Georgia this next weekend. After Shady Dale, I’ll be back with the Hedrick Rodeo Company in Thompson, Georgia. As always, keep an eye out for me in my Ariat denim, Lane boots and American Hat! If you see me, holler!