Viva Las Vegas! The city that never sleeps… I can attest to that being the truth. After spending a week in Vegas during the National Finals Rodeo, attending Cowboy Christmas along with Miss Rodeo America events, I can officially say- I’m a coffee person. A few of the Miss Rodeo USA board members and a former Miss Rodeo USA, Summer Weldon, and I all met up in Vegas. There were fiveof us in a two-bedroom, two bath condo, so you can only imagine the amount of hair spray, laughter and caffeine that was going around! We were able to spendour first day shopping around Cowboy Christmas and visiting sponsors who had booths set up. I was told the whole NFR experience can be overwhelming, but no warning truly captured all that was happening on the strip, convention centers and casinos. There were cowboy hats, boots and fringe for days everywhere you looked, and the Miss Rodeo USA crew was no exception! After we got our fill of shopping and learning the layout of the convention center, it was rodeo time in Vegas. We made our way to the Thomas and Mack and I don’t know if smiles ever left any of our faces. From the lasers and lights, to hearing the bucking horses in the chutes, the whole performance was exhilarating. Jessica Blair Fowlkes, who I watched perform with Lonestar Rodeo Company for years, did the opening ceremony. After our National Anthem played, every person cheered because the rodeo had officially begun. From seeing sash sisters and eating ice cream for supper, the whole night was unforgettable!
For the first time in history, the Miss Rodeo America Organization invited Miss Rodeo USA to the fashion show, boot parade and coronation. I am so thankful for their invite and having the opportunity to experience the NFR as a title holder. The fashion show was fabulous, and Jordan Tierney (Miss Rodeo America 2021-22) shined as “Lady Luck”. The contestants modeled sponsored clothing along with personal items and there were several showstoppers. It was great seeing the girls’ personalities shine through the choreography and modeling. I was seated next to Miss Rodeo Canada Alicia Erickson, and she and I picked out our favorite outfits and danced in our seats together. Once the fashion show was over, we squeezed in a few photos with sash sisters.
The Justin Boot Parade was smack dab in the middle of the convention center,and as the girls walked the red carpet, heads turned left and right. It was so wonderful seeing the girls have fun and show some personality through their fashion, and in what better way than through boots! Once the parade was finished we hit the road to our next stop. As rodeo queens, whether it’s past or present, we do a lot of driving and see a lot of roads. With that being said I (originally) trusted Summer’s driving abilities. However, the more we drove and the more honks we got from people I started to question that trust. For three days we couldn’t figure out why we got honked at every time we drove.Eventually Summer and I realized we weren’t using turn lanes and anytime we turned into our condo we would stop in ongoing traffic. I promise Summer and I both passed our drivers test! They just do things a little different in Vegas. Summer will tell you, “hey we got to where we were going without getting hurt so it’s fine.” However, there were a few times I did the “oh no” grab on my seat.
We spent Saturday evening with the Sherry Smith Photography crew, and if any of you have had the opportunity to meet Sherry, you know the wonderful and caring human she is. Sherry asked me if I would want to do a mini impromptu photoshoot with the casino lights- of course my answer was yes! Sherry, Summer and I went out front at the South Point Casino and had a blast dodging cars while getting pictures with all the lights. Even though Sherry had been working all week doing the pageant photos and videography, she still made me feel like a celebrity. Sherry, the entire Miss Rodeo USA Organization loves you and all you do for us!
Sunday came before we knew it and coronation day was upon us. The contestants all sparkled and shined even after a week of grueling competition. There were outfit changes, dances, formal modeling and impromptu questions for the top 5. Seeing the excitement of each category winner and the faces of their friendships made through the competition was simply wonderful. It’s no cliche that the women you meet while competing become lifelong friends. A very special congratulations to Hailey Frederiksen, your Miss Rodeo America 2022!
From laughs and giggles with my board members, to Starbucks and McDonald’s sweet tea runs between events, I am eternally grateful for the opportunities Miss Rodeo USA has given me and all that my board does to make my year special.
Now, Vegas and the NFR might be over but that doesn’t mean the rodeo season is. We still have the Miss Rodeo USA competition in conjunction with the International Finals Rodeo in January. Cowboys and cowgirls from all over are prepping for their time to shine in Guthrie, Oklahoma at the Lazy E arena! You can find me back home in Alabama, still wearing my Ariat Denim, Lane Boots and American Cowboy hats until I make my way to Oklahoma.