Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Louisville, Kentucky--Home of the Great Lakes Circuit Finals Rodeo

Nice jackets! Me, Chelsea Stramma (WI), Kaytie Zuidema (MI), and Kelsea Walker (IL) showing off our warm Circuit Finals jackets.

How do 5 gals share a 4-door car, 3 mirrors, 2 beds, and one bathroom for 5 days?

Very well and with a lot of fun stories to tell if you were with our "bunch" this past week in Louisville, KY for the Great Lakes Circuit Finals Rodeo! Judy Rogers was brave and kind enough to make the trip with me (so I could study for my two tests on the drive home), and her company helped the time and miles pass pleasantly and quickly. We picked up Kelsea Walker (Miss Rodeo Illinois) along the way and met up with Chelsea Stramma (Miss Rodeo Wisconsin) and Kaytie Zuidema (Miss Rodeo Michigan) once we checked into our very nice hotel.
Peggy Gander, former owner of Dodge Rodeo, and instrumental part of the Great Lakes Circuit Finals Rodeo

From there it was a whirlwind of activity, rodeo, dodging one another as we maneuvered our way around one another getting ready, and many memories that are worth telling! The rodeo was great! The top 12 cowboys from our 9-state circuit were in contention for money, points, and the chance to head to the Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo this next March in Pocatello, Idaho. I saw many familiar faces and quite a few proud Iowans!

During the rodeo Kelsea, Chelsea, Kaytie, and I got to help carry sponsor flags and clear cattle. It was a wonderful time that ended too quickly. I would like to thank Rod, a pickup man for the Mid-State Rodeo Company, for bringing the sharp looking paints we rode all weekend. Lex Anderson (daughter of John Walter, owner of Mid-States Rodeo Co.) was fun to get to know and spoiled us because when we got to the arena, she already had the horses saddled each night. Thank you, Lex, for your help, and have a nice winter break!

Chelsea, Kelsea, Kavin Kingery, Kaytie, and I posing by the "official' truck of the rodeo. (All of us girls are wishing he would let us take the truck for a spin!)

In our "off" time we got picked up in the official Dodge Truck, driven by Iowa native Kavin Kingery, and taken to visit the local Dodge dealership. It was fun to ride in a brand-new truck and everyone at the dealership welcomed us with Kentucky hospitality. I had the opportunity to attend the "Farm City Luncheon" with announcer Roger Mooney and Iowa ropers Bill Huber (and his wife Jackie) and Ron Dales. Bill and Ron helped two teams of businessmen learn to rope a chair, then they had a face-off roping competition for the coveted horse collar award. I had a great time handing out hats and bandanas to the contestants and chatting with Bill, Jackie, and Ron. Ron's son Cooper (9 years old) and his paint pony "Pretty Girl" has helped Rachel Burton and I chase out cattle at quite a few rodeos, so I made sure Ron would pass Rachel and my "hello" on to Mr. Cooper.

Circuit Finals Contestants and fellow Iowans: Ron Dales and Bill Huber (with his wife Jackie) posed for a picture after a long morning of teaching two teams of businessmen how to rope.

Lucky us! Posing with a Carl Bowman (behind Kelsea and I) at his barn on the backside of Churchill Downs.

Later that day we visited Churchill Downs--home of the Kentucky Derby! It was such an exciting trip becuase they were racing that morning, and we happened to meet Carl Bowman, who trains horses at the track! Carl helped us bet on a race and explained how to read all of the boards and books to "handicapp the race" (i.e. pick out who you think will win). After a few races he took us back on the backside of the track to his barn and he showed us around. It was amazing to see such fine racehorses and learn about how they trained and fed their equine athletes. We felt so lucky to have met Mr. Bowman, and he welcomed us back anytime we were in the area.

Cary and Laura Veach, of Ankeny, Iowa. Check out that scrapbook cover! Thank you, Cary!

Cary Veach of Ankeny, Iowa has been wonderful to me this year--keeping Pepper and I outfitted in the most stylish leather chaps and tack. He has outdone himself, once again, by creating the most PERFECT scrapbook cover for my "year of memories" to take to Las Vegas. Thank you, Cary, for all of your wonderful work! If you ever need any leather work done, Cary is your man! Don't hesitate to contact him and his wife Laura at their shop Tuesday-Saturday at (515) 964-8331. (Just don't ask for stars for a while; I am pretty sure I have exhausted him with stars this year!)

Well-mounted on wonderful paint horses bearing red Mid-States Rodeo Company (from Kirksville, MO) breastcollars.

Saturday night was the last night for the rodeo--and my "career." This was the last rodeo I will get to attend and help out as Miss Rodeo Iowa 2007; it doesn't seem like the year should be over! Kelsea and I had a "moment of reflection" together as we thought back to all of the wonderful places we have been this year, all of the incredible people we have met, and the once-in-a-lifetime opportunities we were granted because of the crowns we have nestled upon our Bailey hats. I feel so fortunate for the year but a little sad it is all over. However, I can happily say that I have no regrets, and I was able to check many things off of my "list of things to do in a lifetime."

Thank you for following me this past year on the blog. I have had a great time keeping up with it and sharing my pictures, stories, and experiences with you. I appreciate all of the support everyone has given me, and I hope to make you proud two weeks from now as I make my flight and "Viva Las Vegas" in the Miss Rodeo America Pageant. No matter how things turn out, I will go in and go home knowing I am the most fortunate person there because of the never-ending support, love, encouragement, and faith from my family, friends, the Miss Rodeo Iowa Board, and all of the people I met throughout my year of traveling. I love you all, and will never forget your kindness (so feel free to call me when you need a calf pulled, dog spayed, horse stitched up, etc.) Best wishes, and may God bless you and your family.