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What a great couple of weeks! In celebration of the "I"des of March, I kept with the "i" theme and spread my "I"owa hospitality to "I"daho and "I"llinios!
Idaho was absolutely beautiful and I had a wonderful time at the Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo (DNCFR) in Pocatello! During the six days I was there, the committee kept all 17 of us (queens) busy visiting schools, nursing homes, radio stations, and rodeo sponsors, but it was SO much fun. The committee was very kind to all of us the entire trip which made it hard to head back to the airport to return home. I got to know many of the girls really well which was fun because I had not seen many of them since my Lady-in-Waiting trip to Las Vegas!
On the plane ride from Salt Lake City, I sat by Texas bullrider Travis Campbell. I learned a lot from him about the circuit system and enjoyed hearing about his great career. He was in the picture on the front of my copy of the PSN (ProRodeo Sports News--the official publication of the PRCA), so I got his autograph! Travis is soon to be married, so I wish him and his fiance the best!
Once we arrived in Pocatello and got checked into our hotel suites (yes, suites--they were very big and so nice!) we got dressed to attend the "kick off" celebration at another hotel. Announcers Roger Mooney and Tim Fuller talked about the rodeo and different circuits, and then announced us while we paraded across the upper balcony of the hotel. My face was almost back to its normal shape after the post incident in Council Bluffs, and I was careful not to trip and fall so I could make Iowa proud as they announced "Amanda Eason, Miss Rodeo Iowa 2007, from the Hawkeye State!" (I apologize, but I still shudder each time they say "Hawkeye State" as I have to fight to keep the inner Cyclone from bursting out into the ISU fight song!)
The next morning, we got up and went to the Holt Arena (home of Idaho State University athletics) to practice the rodeo opening on the beautiful sorrel Sutton Rodeo horses. My trusty steed, Weep, was a lot of fun to ride because he had a lot of spunk and it was only his second rodeo. We got along just find and exceeded the expectations of everyone when we carried the flags. Thank you, Jim and Julie Sutton, for allowing us to ride your horses for the entire week!They were also kind enough to let us ride them in Rapid City earlier in the year. The rest of the day we split up into groups and made our civic group appearances.
One of my most memorable moments, beside having fun with the queens, was visiting one of the nursing homes in Pocatello. When the employees asked if we had any talents, I threw my bag down and broke out the "electric slide" to a Chris LeDoux tune they had playing. The other queens joined in and the residents loved it! Though I wanted to sing along with Chris, I figured it was safer to cut a rug rather than hurt the residents' ear drums!
There were 5 different rodeo performances and all of them were AMAZING! The DNCFR is the National Finals for cowboys within the 12 PRCA circuits who have Monday-Friday jobs and are unable to rodeo 365 days of the year to earn as much money (the top 15 money-earners in each event are the ones who get to go to the WNFR) as the contestants who compete at the Wrangler National Finals in Las Vegas. We saw many great rides and runs . . . it was so much fun to be a part of it! I got to carry the Texas Circuit flag in the opening, the Montana Silversmiths flag during the national sponsor run (which looked GREAT with my custom-made Cary Veach chaps!), and various other sponsor flags before and after events.
The way the DNCFR works is the top 2 contestants from each of the 12 circuits compete in 2 go-rounds. At the end of the 2 rounds, the top 8 contestants from each event move on to the Wrangler Semi-final round. The average is cleared so everyone is on an even playing field again, and then they have another go round. The top 4 contestants from each event advance to the Wrangler Finals round where the average is cleared again. At the end of this go-round, the contestant with the fastest time/highest scored ride is the event champion and the new owner of a Dodge truck for a year (custom made to their liking)! That evening Miss Rodeo Washington (Jesse Bud), Miss Rodeo California (Kadee Coffman), Miss Rodeo New Mexico (Ashley Stallings), Miss Rodeo Illinois (Kelsea Walker), and I went to the local Applebee's for supper and sat in the booth next to the new barrel champion, Shali Lord, and congratulated her on her new wheels!
Though I love Iowa, it was hard to leave the beautiful mountain-valley city of Pocatello. The whole week I thought everyone was saying "Iowa Falls" and "Iowa State Univeristy" because they would say "Idaho" so fast and somewhat mumbled that it sounded like "Iowa"! On the trip home, I rode in the same airplane as Great Lakes Circuit President, Wayne Knutson of Clifton Hill, Missouri. Miss Rodeo Arkansas and I slept on that flight, so I didn't get a chance to talk to him, but it was fun to meet him in person!
Not leaving much time to catch up homework from being in Pocatello, Paula Jameson and Rachel Burton (Miss Rodeo Iowa Teen 2007) bravely jumped into my Impala Friday, March 23 and headed to Flora, Illinois with me. We stopped in Springfield for a Professional Bull Riders event en route to Miss Rodeo Illinios' coronation. Lucky us, World Champion Bull Rider, Don Gay, and World Champion Bullfighter and 2006 PRCA Hall of Fame Inductee, Rob Smets were there! Rachel and I got our picture taken with them but felt bad because we weren't looking very "queenie," but didn't care too much because it is not everyday one gets the chance to meet people of this caliber!
We had a lot of fun at Kelsea's coronation and got escorted and introduced at the event to the "Magnificent Seven" theme song (the one they play at many rodeos during the grand entry and at the beginning of "City Slickers"), so I had to hold back my urge to gallop out of the hallway! Kelsea had a great turnout, and some pretty tasty cowboy beans for supper! She had a successful coronation, and it was great to see her again, even though we had just spent a week together in Idaho.
I have been having the time of my life traveling and promoting Iowa! Thank you to everyone who has contributed toward my year of traveling; I feel very fortunate, loved, and honored to have your support. Your kindness is greatly appreciated, and I will do what I can to make you proud this year! For your viewing pleasure, please enjoy the pictures from my latest trips. I will add more when I get them, so please check back (the Pocatello committee took MANY action photos and said they would send all of us a CD later)! I hope you are enjoying the nice weather as much as I am, and I will write again after my next group of activities from Indianola and Des Moines at the Iowa Horse Fair!