Saturday, September 15, 2007

Ft. Madison and the New Miss Rodeo Iowa!

Hello, Ft. Madison! Behind me is the Mississippi River--it is GREAT to be back in southest Iowa!

What a WHIRLWIND of a week! It was bittersweet to be back in Ft. Madison because I was excited for the Tri-State Rodeo and Miss Rodeo Iowa Pageant, but sad because I am becoming closer to being a "has been." However, I felt as if I became a resident of Ft. Madison and my nice, spacious room was beginning to feel like home during my 10-day southeast Iowa vacation. I had a FANTASTIC week, and as usual, I am excited to tell you about it, so sit back, put your feet up, enjoy the pictures, and read away!
My second "bull riding" experience of the year at the Special Kids' Rodeo in the Tri-State Rodeo Arena along with one of my new friends.

I began my fun by helping out with the Special Kid's Rodeo. What a great day! There were so many different thing for the contestants to have fun doing, including barrel bull riding, bale bronc busting, steer roping, goat tying, horse rides, barrel racing, and even the chance to sit on a real, live bull named Gus! I didn't get around to trying everything because Jesse, one of the older contestants and helpers, and I were having a great time roping the steer! Throughout the day I received many high-fives, hugs, and never stopped smiling but my face did not hurt because my heart was in control; all of the contestants were a beautiful blessing of determination, happiness, love, and triumph. I am Katie's number one fan!

One of the most memorable cowgirls I met that day was Katie. This gal has more personality in her little finger than I have ever thought about, or will have ever have the opportunity, to have! She was full of smiles, laughter, and had a positive outlook on everything--I believe we should all learn a lesson from Katie. She made her own special place in my heart that day, and I every time I need a pick-me-up, I think of Miss Katie.

Doc and Rock, who I would LOVE to take home and have for my own! They are for sale if you're interested!

After the contestants had completed all of the events, received their medals, and had chowed down on a delicious lunch complete with Cowboy Beans--and you know how I feel about this essential dish--everyone packed up and went home for the day. One of the other events going on throughout the day for the contestants was horse-drawn wagon rides. The beautiful Percheron team of Doc and Rock, owned by Mr. Dave Beelman, made several laps around the rodeo grounds during the day, but they were kind enough to go one more time and allow me to drive them! It seems that my summer has had somewhat of a draft horse theme to it! I was excited to hear the team is for sale for a very afforable price, but then my practical conscience tapped on my shoulder and informed me that I have student loans to worry about before I acquire a team of horses!

Setting the pattern for the Stick Horse Barrel Race at the Little Spurs Rodeo in the Tri-State Rodeo Arena.

The next event I was able to help out with was the Little Spurs Rodeo for kids up to 14 years old. The date happend to be Labor Day, and boy, did those kids work hard in their events! They competed in the mutton busting, steer riding, stick horse barrel racing, goat tail tying, calf scramble, and greased pig contest! I had a great time hazing sheep and Holstein steers, as well as setting the pattern for the stick horse barrel race. I really wanted to ride one of the steers, but that little conscience tapped me on the shoulder again and reminded me of my somewhat bad luck this year and proneness to accidents! Therefore, I had to think of some other way to embarrass myself, so I shared many of my corny steer jokes with the audience--thank goodness rotten tomatoes were banned at the gate!

We love reading--and our ABC's!

On Tuesday and Wednesday I spent the entire day at Richardson and Lincoln Elementary in Ft. Madison; I figured my absence from Histology, Anatomy, Radiology, and Biochemistry in Ames would be justified if I spent it at a school! I had a great time speaking to the different classrooms about the rodeo, answering questions about the different events and treatment of rodeo stock, and even received picture drawings from one of the classrooms! When I visited the Kindergarteners, I sat back and enjoyed learning about different animals as they read their ABC's from a big book! During my school visit I ran into to one-and-only Katie who I met at the rodeo and was greated with a big wave and hug!
Jim Platt, the General Chairman for the Tri-State Rodeo and Chief Executive Officer of Administration at the Ft. Madison Community Hospital; he did a wonderful job with the rodeo and supports the Miss Rodeo Iowa Program through and through by donating the Miss Rodeo Iowa Trophy Saddle, along with the Ft. Madison Community Hospital. Thank you, Jim, for what you do for our program!

Tuesday night I was kindly invited by the wonderful Tri-State Rodeo Board to the Committee Dinner. I was honored by being seated at the head table with General Chairman Jim Platt, Vice Chairman Chuck Kempker, Announcer Boyd Polhamus, and Stock Contractor Binion Cervi. The Cervi Championship Rodeo Co. also brings stock to the Sidney, Iowa Championship Rodeo, so it was great to see a familiar face. Binion does a wonderful job with the stock company; he amazes me every time I see him because he is the same age as I, yet produces some of the largest rodeos in the PRCA. Great job, Binion!
Mr. Binion Cervi himself!

Wednesday night was Tough Enough to Wear Pink night at the Tri-State Rodeo. Though Pepper Ann told me her favorite color is blue, she did comment on how nice everyone looked in their "pinks" and thought it was great they were showing their support for Breast Cancer Awareness. The Miss Rodeo Iowa Contestants arrived Wednesday night--Aleigh Beahm, Kami Axtel, and Miranda Galvin, along with Kelsea Walker, Miss Rodeo Illinois. It was wonderful to see all of the familiar, shining faces! I not only got to see many famous cowboys and cowgirls, but Kelsea and I got to help run sponsor flags and chase out cattle during the rodeo. Pepper Ann and I had a super time--she is a trooper and did such a wonderful job for me this year, especially considering her first trip off the farm was to a rodeo!
Pepper Ann and my "Tough Enough" Queen's Run--she looks great! Check out the crafty Cary Veach Custom breast collar! Thank you, Cary

Billy Etbauer is my PRCA hero! I was in shock just to see him 5 feet in front of me and even more thrilled thathe would pose for a picture with me!

The rodeo was FANTASTIC the entire week! Every time Boyd would announce some of the contestants who had come to Ft. Madison, I had to make sure I was not sitting in the Thomas and Mack in Las Vegas. Behind the chutes I saw great cowboys and cowgirls such as: Shali Lord, Mary Berger, Billy Etbauer, Cody DeMoss, Chad Ferley, Kyle Whitaker, BJ Schumacher, Royce Ford, Bill Huber, and the list goes on! It was a very "proud Iowan" moment for me to think that these people had traveled from South Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, etc. to compete at the Tri-State Rodeo. Great job, Tri-State Committee, for making your rodeo so great that current world champions make it a definite date on their calendar!

The beautiful, talented, and accomplished Judy Rogers riding her mare, Honey, taking time to pose next to Pepper Ann and me.

Thursday morning was the Horsemanship portion of the competition. Judy Rogers, who was one of the judges last year at the pageant, was so kind and brought up her 6-year old BEAUTIFULLY TRAINED dun mare, Honey, for me to ride. Honey is the nicest horse I have ever had the privelage to ride; we were able to wow the crowd with 4 awesome spins to the right and left to end the pattern! I didn't ride Honey as well as she can perform, so I have to apologize for that, but if you ever get the chance, you should watch Judy ride her! Judy makes Honey ride so smoothly, performing difficult moves with the ease of the sticky, golden, bee-made substance you drizzle over toast and muffins!

Kelsea Walker looking beautiful, as always, with Honey and me after Horsemanship. Kelsea used Honey during the rodeo performances to carry flags and chase out cattle.

Judy has helped me so much this year; she was gracious enough to take me under her wing and help me figure out how to "put my face on" and select my make-up colors. One of the most special moments I have shared with Judy this year was right after I had a make-over; I looked in the mirror and said: "Judy, I look like Miss Rodeo Iowa!" I owe my peace-of-mind and satisfaction of my appearance to her! Judy has also helped me fine-tune my horsemanship, of which I am very grateful for. Thank you, Judy, I appreciate all you have done for me!
Miss Rodeo Iowa 2008 Contestants: (L to R) Kami Axtel, Aleigh Beahm, and Miranda Galvin

After horsemanship the contestants went out to B Bar T to pick out outfits they wanted to model during Saturday's fashion show. B Bar T is so kind in letting the contestants borrow their clothes, and gives them a WONDERFUL discount after the pageant if they want to purchase them. After we left the store, the girls had to go back for the Personal Interview portion of the competition. Kelsea and I headed to the Holy Trinity School in the neighboring town and got to speak to the students about rodeo, and even got to play kickball with one class during P.E.! Kelsea and I were not as good as we remembered ourselves to be and were definitely warm running around in felt hats and leather vests!

After P.E. the 5th-7th graders filed into the gym and Kelsea and I got the neat opportunity to step away from just talking about bull riders, flank straps, and rodeo clowns. We took the opportunity to speak to the middle schoolers about how rodeo queen pageants have taught us how to set goals, speak in front of people, conduct ourselves in a mature manner (most of the time--everyone needs a good kickball game every now and again!), and how to push ourselves to be more than we ever thought we would be. The most important subject I stressed was treating everyone with kindness because it has many unique and unexpected ways of making its way full-circle. Many wonderful things have happened to me this year all related to simple acts of kindness.

Speaking of Kindness: If it weren't for Bobbie Hinds (L), my National Director and Paula Jameson (R), the Teen Coordinator, I would not have ever had the CHANCE of becoming Miss Rodeo Iowa. Thank you, gals, for all you have done to turn me into who I am today--and for making sure I look like a rodeo queen when I make appearances! Bobbie was so kind and bought me a "Welcome" sign for my future practice to remind me of what a great year I had!

Friday was the Speech portion of the competition, and my opportunity to share some of great experiences this year with the audience. (I say SOME because if they would have let me tell about all them, we would have been there all day!) The best thing that happened to me this year, by far, is when I got to show Chopper in the Governor's Charity Steer Show! Call me crazy, but it was bliss to have calf slobber running down one forearm while I scratched his belly with a showstick in the other hand! The contestants did a wonderful job "thinking outside of the box" with their speeches; I was prepared to hear the same "Iowa" facts three times over, but I was pleasantly surprised to hear about determined women, tough cancer survivors, and patriotic Americans! Great job, gals!

Saturday morning Pepper Ann and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves in the parade waving, smiling, and talking with parade-watchers. We love parades, and realized this would be our last one together, and probably our last one forever, so we wanted to make the most of it. Once again, my day brightened as Miss Katie ran up and gave Pepper and I a big hug when the parade momentarily stopped where she was sitting. That girl is a ball of sunshine! Though the parade route is well over a mile, it didn't seem to last very long and it was over too soon. It was perfect parade weather and conditions, and Pepper and I were ready to turn around and go through again. However, the Miss Rodeo Iowa Pageant Fashion Show was due to kick-off not too long after the parade got over, so Pepper and I had to skip out on the double parade duty idea and head back to get ready.

I am surrounded by beauty! Judy Rogers, me, and Jessi Kokjohn (Miss Rodeo Iowa Pageant Director) at the Tri-State Rodeo Committee Dinner.

Jessi Kokjohn, a former Miss Rodeo Iowa, is the pageant director. She is truly amazing because she spends most of her time in Colorado, but puts on a classy, professional, and unforgettable event for all contestants involved! Jessi does a wonderful job planning the Miss Rodeo Iowa pageant and one-ups herself with the production of the fashion show. The Miss Rodeo Iowa Contestants and Miss Teen Rodeo Iowa Contestants model several different outfits to very fitting songs and dance very intricately-coreographed numbers. Dana Huling is the mastermind behind the dances, and I want to thank her for all of the hard work she puts into the pageant by conducting practices during the pageant for the girls. Dana is great, and she gave me a new appreciation of organized dance! Last year during the pageant was my first encounter with a "team" routine, and I was not the most coordinated dancer! Bless Dana's heart, she remembered my struggles last year and made the dance I was part of shorter and easier this year!

Between the dance numbers, the contestants needed time to change, so Jessi had planned for Joe Nichols to perform for the audience (because he put on a concert Friday night after the rodeo), but his booking agent said that the logistics of his next show location wouldn't work out with staying at the pageant. Rather than letting everyone sit in silence and wait, Kelsea Walker (Miss Rodeo Illinois 2007 and also a Miss Teen Rodeo Iowa Pageant judge) and I came to the rescue. All week long we had been reminiscing about our wonderful year together and decided it was a lot like Lane Frost and Tuff Hedeman's relationship; we didn't really know one another until we became state titleholders, and our last big event together was in Cheyenne (but ours turned out happier; neither one of us died and we traveled happily and safely home in the car). In celebration of a great year and two friends wishing they could do it all over again, we belted out "When Will I Be Loved?" by Linda Ronstadt and made everyone dance during the instrumental part of the song--just like they did in the movie 8 Seconds at Lane & Kelly's wedding. It was a blast for us, but I am sure the audience was glad for the end of the song because Kelsea and I are not exactly Nashville material, but we gave it our all!

Though it is cliche, a picture is worth 1,000 words . . . I do not think I need to explain.

During the fashion show, the contestants look fantastic. I remember how much fun it was to model the different outfits, do the dances (though I was not good, it was still fun), explain to the audience your "novelty" oufit that describes you, and wow them with your beautiful "coronation" dress. Before they crowned the new Miss Rodeo Iowa and Miss Teen Rodeo Iowa, I was given the opportunity to give my "farewell" speech. As I was standing on stage in front of the audience, it felt like I was in Ft. Madison a only a few months ago waiting nervously behind the curtain. Since you missed the live portion, I would like to share a few "thank yous" with you that need mentioning.

I would not have been able to get through the year if it were not for the financial and emotional support of my wonderful sponsors, especially Jon Stripe and Sunshine S Trailer Sales in Shenandoah, Bill Horton and Nutrena Feeds, John McCarthy of McCarthy One Hour Heating and Air Conditioning, Cary Veach, Ashley Kelber of Outlaws and Ladies, and my wonderful family. I feel very blessed to have been "given" my great parents, Steve and Alisa Eason, because they constantly encouraged me to better myself, taught me how to be strong-willed and determined, and showed me how love, kindness, and small things will grant you with great things in life. Another group of wonderful women in my life include those who make up the Miss Rodeo Iowa Board: Bobbie Hinds, Paula Jameson, Kimber Dall, Jill Neuman, Megan Wiemold, Stephanie Wells, Connie Wiemold, and Irene Blazek-Pauley. These women have been a great resource to me for what to wear, how to look, where to go, what to do, and not to mention have all become very great friends. I feel fortunate to have had such a supportive group of talented, intelligent, and resourceful individuals helping me make the most out of my year! Thank you, to everyone--there is not enough space on the internet to list all of the people who have helped me out and touched my life this year. I feel truly blessed. Rachel Burton, Miss Teen Rodeo Iowa 2008 and Aleigh Beahm, Miss Rodeo Iowa 2008. I am PROUD to say they are Cyclones AND future veterinarians!

Congratulations Aleigh Beahm, Miss Rodeo Iowa 2008, and Rachel Burton, Miss Teen Rodeo Iowa 2008! I am so happy, proud, and excited for these two girls for the fun they will have ahead of them--and I am also proud to say they are both CYCLONES and pre-veterinary students! All of the contestants did a great job; I would not have wanted to be a judge in either of the pageants because there were not many points that separated the winners from the runners-up. This makes me very proud of the caliber and integrity of contestants the Miss Rodeo Iowa Program attracts. There are many talented young women in Iowa, but I am especially proud of and would do anything for any and all of the contestants in both pageants because I had the opportunity to be with them all week and experience their wit, charm, and intelligence first-hand. I hope to see many of them back next year!

The trailer ride on Highway 2 headed west out of Ft. Madison was a sad one for many reasons, the biggest one being I said goodbye to Pepper Ann. This was the last rodeo of my reign as Miss Rodeo Iowa 2007 that I will need "my" trusty grey steed. I returned her to Gary and Marla Long's farm of Centerville, where she will get a well-deserved rest from rodeo! I am so thankful the Longs allowed me to take Pepper on the road because we became good friends, and she was truly amazing at everything she did--or didn't do. There was nothing we encountered at any rodeo that spooked this stone-solid mare; no ear-blasting sounds from any rodeo sound system, or whipping flag in the wind, or flashing lights and screaming sirens of clowns' specialty acts, or large team of draft horses pulling a wagon, or children running up screaming to hug my leg during a parade, or firecracker "booms", or stampeding sheep, or noisy gate latches, or . . . I am sure you are picking up what I am putting down. This 15 hand, 5 year old, piece of horseflesh is nothing less than a giant heart on legs, wanting to please you. I am not a fan of mares, but this one has broken my rule and stolen my heart. Thank you Pepper Ann, for allowing me to do all I wanted to at the rodeos and for a fantastic, memorable summer. I am going to miss you!

For now, my traveling schedule slows down, and I will be hitting the books for a month or so to maintain my spot as a VM 1 at the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine. My next event will be helping out at the Iowa State University Cyclone Stampede Rodeo at the end of this month, then I will be heading to the Great Lakes Circuit Finals in Louisville, KY the second weekend in November. From there, it is Viva Las Vegas and onto the Miss Rodeo America Pageant in the beautiful Orleans Hotel! I am nervous and excited for the pageant, but it will be great to see all of the other state queens again! My main goal is to have fun because the pageant will be an experience of a lifetime, but I would also LOVE to come home with a scholarship to finance some of my education!

Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed the pictures as much as I did participating in all of the events that were captured on film! I appreciate you keeping up with my exciting year as Miss Rodeo Iowa, and I look forward to the next time I get to write!