Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Wonderful Wyoming and the Daddy of 'em All!

I just returned home from the Cheyenne Frontier Days--what a great trip! Kelsea Walker, Miss Rodeo Illinois, and Kaytie Zuidema, Miss Rodeo Michigan, and I packed the Impala and headed west to Wyoming. There is no better way to get to know someone than on an 8 hour road trip, and by the time we returned to Iowa, we all felt like sisters--at least the type of sisters who get along with one another and do not fight!

While in Cheyenne we participated in a chuckwagon pancake cooking and acutally flipped the pancakes out of the wagon to the "catchers" armed with cookie sheets to land the hotcakes! I do have to say that I got pretty good at flipping the pancakes out of the wagon and relied on my ancient basketball skills to put some pretty fancy "english" (backspin) on the flying hotcakes! The rotary club sponsoring the breakfast tried to get me to sign a contract to come back the next year to flip pancakes, but I had to turn them down.

The Harry Vold Ranch provided the other state queens and I with beautiful, sleek, athletic, and fast black horses to do "fly bys" during the performances of rodeo. It was awesome! The arena is within a horse racing track, so we got to run our horses in front of the south grandstands on the homestretch of the track. The girls and I were there for three performances, and after each run I was ready to do it again! There are not many other things better than flying at full speed on a horse--that you know will stop when you want him to! I had a wonderful time at the rodeo and felt honored to be a part of it.

Katie Zuidema (Miss Rodeo Michigan), me, and Kelsea Walker (Miss Rodeo Illinois) sporting our beautiful Vold horses before the parade.

We were also able to borrow horses to participate in the rodeo parade throughout downtown Cheyenne. I felt very spoiled because each time we went to pick up our horse, they were already saddled! I would like to thank Kip, who works for the Vold Ranch, for the hard work he put it to get our horses saddled, looking great, and ready to go! I was lucky to get to ride Scar, a pickup horse, for the three days I was there! I would have gladly loaded the black bald-faced horse on a trailer and taken him back to Iowa with me!

During our trip we met many wonderful people including Karen Vold, wife of Harry Vold, who has great bucking stock every year at the NFR. We also met Bobbie Romer, a past bullfighter who was there trying to fight off the bull that struck Lane Frost and caused his death. We were honored to talk with Mr. Romer who has quite a colorful history himself in the rodeo world.

However, the one person who touched my life in so many ways and has given me a new outlook on life, is Arlene Kensinger. She is a past trick rider and trick water skier from Cheyenne who has been very instrumental in the advancement of the rodeo queen world. Arlene is the one all rodeo queens can thank for being considered an integral part of the rodeo and public face for the sport. She is a member of 5 different Hall of Fames, so I was honored to be in the presence of a living legend! Arlene lost her leg in a tragic accident 12 years ago, but because of her optimistic outlook and stately presence, one would never know. Thank you, Arlene, for being an inspiration to me to take whatever pitch is thrown at me and hit a homerun with it!

It always feels good to get back home, but Cheyenne was one place that was hard to leave. I was kindly hosted by Ann, Paul, Heather, and Justin Sanchez. They let me stay in their beautiful home and welcomed me in like one of the family. Heather and I start vet school together in Ames in August, so it was neat to get to know my newest study partner! I was sad to leave the Sanchez home, but glad to know that I will be seeing them again over the course of the next four years! Everyone from the rodeo committee went out of their way to make all of us state queens feel welcome! There is no question why the rodeo is the "Daddy of 'em All" and part of every cowboy song. Thank you, Cheyenne, for a memory of a lifetime--I will definitely return!

This week I will head to the Iowa rodeo very near and dear to my heart--the Sidney, Iowa Championship Rodeo! As always, I will be celebrating my birthday at the rodeo, so if you are in Sidney on Friday, August 3rd, you will have to stop by the McCarthy One Hour booth, who are one of my kind sponsors, for some birthday cake! After Sidney, I will be heading to the State Fair to show a steer for the Iowa Farm Bureau in the Governor's Charity Steer Show! I am SO excited and cannot wait because I have ALWAYS wanted to show a steer and now I have the opportunity. The steer's name is "Chopper" and have been told he is a looker, so watch out Governor Culver, Chopper and I plan on giving you and your steer a run for your money! The show is Saturday, August 11th at the best state fair in the nation, so come join us if you are able!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

On the Road Again!

Look who I found at the Lenox Rodeo: Lauren Scholz (Miss Sidney, Iowa Rodeo) and Rachel Burton (Miss Rodeo Iowa Teen)!

What a fun-filled week!

Rachel Burton, Miss Rodeo Iowa Teen, and I had a busy but fun run of rodeos in Southern Iowa. We began the week at the Centerville, Iowa Rodeo in conjunction with the Appanoose County Fair. John Steenhoek of the Heartland Rodeo Company supplied the great stock for the two-day event that kept the crowd entertained throughout the evening. Rachel and I got to help run flags in the opening ceremony as well as clear the arena during the timed events. I would like to commend the Appanoose County Fairboard for a great fair. The rodeo was a great addition to the list of entertainment; I think every county fair should have a rodeo!

Upon leaving Centerville we headed to Lenox, Iowa for the rodeo produced by the Rite 'N' Gear Rodeo Company and contractor Barry Wright. Rachel and I had a fun time helping with the mutton busters and carrying flags in the grand entry. We were able to watch and enjoy the rodeo from the autograph table which enabled us to meet many of the rodeo spectators during the performance. We were joined by the Lenox Royalty, Katie Stark and Suzi Fife, Lacey Glover (Miss United Rodeo Association), Suzette Walker (Miss Teen Rodeo Iowa), and Lauren Scholz (Miss Sidney, Iowa Rodeo). I also got to be in the presence of the great Miss Rodeo Illinois, Kelsea Walker, who works for Barry Wright. I had not seen Kelsea for over a month so she was quite the sight for sore eyes with her Angora "woolie" chaps!
From Lenox Rachel and I moved to Bedford, Iowa for an Extreme Bull Riding Tour Event held in conjunction with the Taylor County Fair. It was great to see Todd Crase and Shad Smith again, and even more fun to watch the event. The tour attracted many PBR standout riders to Southwest Iowa. Todd and Ryan Skillett do an outstanding job with the production of the event, complete with fireworks, smoke machines, and lighting the arena on fire for the short round. Shawn "Boom Boom" Thompson is also a vital part of the show by keeping the crowd entertained and light-hearted from his barrel.
Shad Smith prides himself, though humble as they come, in the quality of his bucking stock. Many of his bulls are on the PBR Tour and will buck at the PBR Finals in Las Vegas this fall. Shad's Double "S" Bucking Bull Ranch resides in Sidney, Iowa which makes me proud because of another standout from our state! During the Extreme Event there was a section of freestyle bullfighting which was definitely a crowd-pleaser! The bulls were small, quick, and mean which made for some great bullfighting! Great job Shad, Todd, and Ryan for the work you do to make your events "the hottest show on dirt"!While in Bedford, I ran into my aunt, uncle, and cousins, who showed their lambs at the fair. Though they tried to play "tough guys" by not smiling, Rachel and I talked Paul and Dalton into posing in a picture with us because Paul won champion and reserve champion rate of gain--and this was his first year of 4H! Congratulations, Paul, on a job well-done!

On Monday I headed to Nevada, Iowa to judge the Story County 4H Horse Fun Show. I had a great time selecting winners in the Costume Race, Tandem Back to Back Class, Adult Western Pleasure, Water Glass Pleasure, etc. Thank you, Claire Hall, for the invitation and opportunity to have fun with the kids and their parents!

This week Kelsea Walker (Miss Rodeo Illinois), Katie Zuidema (Miss Rodeo Michigan), and I are headed to the "Daddy of 'em All" in Cheyenne, Wyoming! I am very excited and looking forward to the trip because I have driven by the arena several times, but have never stopped or been to the rodeo. I cannot wait to get there and experience the atmosphere of one of the most famous rodeos in the world! As neat as it is, the host family I will be staying with is the home of a future vet school classmate that I will get to meet!

I hope you are enjoying your summer as much as I because it is flying by way too quickly! I cannot believe it is almost time for the rodeo season to slow down and school to begin! I will be sure to take many pictures in Cheyenne, so please check back in a few weeks!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Meet our 2008 Miss Rodeo Iowa Pageant Contestants

Meet the three young ladies who are vying for the title of Miss Rodeo Iowa 2008 at http://www.rodeoroyalty.com/MRI/2008/08.htm.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

A Delightful Time in Decorah!

What a FANTASTIC weekend! I just returned home from Decorah—the state’s hidden treasure of breath-taking scenery with rock bluffs and deep valleys. The Winneshiek County Fair was going on during my visit, along with the PRCA-sanctioned rodeo produced by the Three Hills Rodeo Company of Bernard, Iowa. I was glad to be working with the Morehead family again because they are always fun to help and put on a great rodeo! This was my last rodeo of the season to work with the Moreheads, which is sad, but thank you Dave, Marla, Jake, Courtney, Lindsay, Angie, and Ben Meyer for a great year!

During my time in Decorah I was granted the opportunity to do something I have always wanted to try—drive a team of horses! Julie Buddenberg, a 19-year-old local and talented young woman, let me drive her team of Belgian horses around the fairgrounds! I was thrilled to be in control of the lines, and cannot get over the power that was harnessed between my fingers! Julie taught me how to “swing” the team right and left by using verbal “gee” and “haw” cues. Just a little tidbit of information: the origin of the cowboy’s “yee haw” comes from a hitch drivers commands of “gee” and “haw.”

I am Julie’s newest, biggest fan because of her magnetic personality, amazing strength and talent in driving the horses, and for the many accomplishments she has achieved. Julie has driven teams of two, four, and six horses; not to mention work for the Priefert Percheron Hitch that travels all throughout the United States performing at rodeos, stock shows, and other events. Julie also supplies rides for weddings and other occasions, so if you are in need of these services, be sure to look her up!

Saturday, Julie (who is also the Winneshiek County Fair Princess) took the time to show me around beautiful Decorah. We started out with a tour of their very nice and state-of-the-art dairy farm where they milk 330 cows and house her big draught horses. I was impressed with how smoothly things seemed to run on the farm, and to find out they have the highest rolling herd average in the state of Iowa for milk production!

Once we left the dairy farm we headed to the north side of town to Dunning Spring, a beautiful waterfall running out of a cave in one of the rock bluffs. I was taken aback by how peaceful the area was—and to have it in Iowa! Once we left the spring, we went to the Palisade lookout area and overlooked the city of Decorah atop a rock bluff. If everyone knew how beautiful it was in Northeast Iowa they would want to live there! When we made it to the bottom of the bluff we drove across town and visited the state fish hatchery where they raise and transport brown and rainbow trout to stock Iowa streams and lakes.

During the fair I was honored by getting to judge the apple pie contest—what a tasty experience! I was sure to take quite a few sample bites from each pie to make sure I picked the right winners . . . not to mention it was right around lunch time! I met the large County Fair Royalty Court, complete with beef and dairy princesses, and got to take a picture with them—I felt honored to be surrounded by all of the beauty!

Though it was hard to leave, after the rodeo was over Saturday night and the horses were unsaddled, I departed from Decorah—but had a permanent smile on my face as I thought back to all of the wonderful things I got to do this past weekend. I am very glad I was able to make the trip and the Winneshiek County Fair Committee welcomed me to their event. I would like to thank Ted and Edna Schramdt for all of their help in making me feel welcome and part of the fair.

I have had such a wonderful time this summer traveling throughout Iowa getting to experience for myself what an extraordinary state I am blessed to live in! Thank you, once again, to everyone who has helped make this year possible, real, and wonderful! I will write again when I return home from Centerville and Lenox!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

From Northeast to Southwest Iowa

Happy Fourth of July!

Since the last time I have written, I have been from one corner of the state to the other. I was invited to judge the "cold call" portion of the AgVantage Truck "Roadeo" in Waverly, Iowa. Newly crowned high school queen, Charity Howk, and I had a great time with the employees of the company at the event. During a delicious catered meal we listened to Southwest Iowa cowboy poet and singer Brooke Turner. Brooke rode a horse all the way to Nashville, TN to sell a song he wrote to raise money for spinal cord research; he is a very honorable and admirable person, as well as everyone's friend--this man knows no strangers and always has an entertaining way of explaining things and telling stories!

After returning home from Waverly, I loaded up my new grey mount for the summer, Pepper Ann, and headed to the Exira, Iowa rodeo. I would like to thank Gary and Marla Long of Centerville for allowing me to borrow their mare for the remainder of the summer. Though she is young, Pepper Ann takes everything in stride and has turned out to be a very quiet and willing trooper at the rodeos--not to mention very flashy!

This was a first-time event in honor of the town's sesquicentennial celebration I had a wonderful time carrying the flag, clearing the arena, and getting to know the committee. A very special "thank you" to the rodeo committee for the wonderful "Welcome Miss Rodeo Iowa" banner that was displayed on the bumper of a truck at the entrance gate! It made me feel very welcome and caused me to blush when I drove in. It was a beautiful day for a rodeo, and the Grand River stock was bucking for all they were worth! Announcer Blaine Partridge called the rodeo to life, and my mom was there to run the music to keep the crowd involved during the event. Happy 150th birthday, Exira!

From Exira Pepper Ann and I moved on down the road to Shenandoah and New Market, Iowa for their 4th of July celebration parades. The bright sun and crowd full of red, white, and blue created the perfect atmosphere for such a proud day. Though New Market is a town of a few hundred people, thousands of visitors flocked to "Southwest Iowa's Hot Spot for the Fourth of July" for the parade, truck and tractor pulls, singing, games, and of course, the 45 minute firework show that remains in the minds of all who witness it until the next year.

After the fireworks were over, the next day I traveled to Leon, Iowa for their annual rodeo. It is one of the biggest rodeos (for all associations) in Iowa, as they proudly hosted over 650 contestants! Pepper Ann and I had a great time with Aleigh Beahm, the 2007 Miss Leon Rodeo, and Blondie during the performances, as well as slack. I also had a great time getting to know the very talented 2007 Leon Rodeo Princess, Chelsie Broich. I was amazed by the number of families who came to participate in the rodeo and enjoyed watching them cheer one another on, but still maintain friendly competition. I really enjoy the atmosphere of the smaller rodeos for this reason.

While in Leon I ran into John Steenhoek of the Heartland Rodeo Company because he had brought many of the bucking horses that gave the roughstock riders a run for their money. It was good to see John again because I had not seen him since the rodeo in Des Moines last December. I am looking forward to seeing John and the rest of the crew again in 2 weeks at the Centerville, Iowa rodeo July 17-18, hosted by the Appanoose County Fair Committee!

I am now headed back to Northeast Iowa for the Decorah PRCA Rodeo held in conjunction with their county fair. I am looking forward to seeing the wonderful Morehead family again of the Three Hills Rodeo Company. From Decorah I will head to Centerville, and from there I will move to Lenox, Iowa on July 19-21.

I have had a wonderful summer so far, and just realized the other day that the Iowa summer rodeo season is almost through, which made me sad because it has flown by so quickly! Before I know it, I will be back in Ames in a veterinary lecture hall trying to learn biochemistry, dog anatomy, and study for the Miss Rodeo America Pageant! Thank you to everyone who has helped me become who I am and get to experience this wonderful year! I am for sure that I am one of the most fortunate people in the world because of the great network of family and friends I have been blessed with! Take care, enjoy the rest of your summer, and I will write again soon!