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.
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