Miss Rodeo USA continues to spread the good word about ag and rodeo
for The Fence Post
Just as spring snowmelt began paving the way for a full season of rodeos across rural America, the ramp-up of COVID-19 has temporarily stolen the spotlight. Even so, the new Miss Rodeo USA Brooke Wallace who kicked off a couple of her signature-events before all rodeos and appearances were cancelled due to the coronavirus, is taking it in stride.
Deeply passionate about her new role as Miss Rodeo USA in sharing the importance of agriculture, the 25-year old Wallace; from Council Grove, Kan., is also sensitive to the rodeo cancellations which coincided with the worldwide effort to help stop the COVID-19 pandemic. In less than two months as Miss Rodeo USA, Wallace is already heartened that the ag and rodeo industries have enabled new friends to feel like family members.
“It speaks a lot about what the ag industry has to hold, and all that’s going on right now. It’s important that we all have to stick together, whether it’s farming, raising cattle, rodeo, equestrian sports, we all have to band together and show the world that rodeo will continue, and we have to bring new farmers into the world because if we don’t have new farmers — we won’t have any food,” said Wallace, the first Kansan to become Miss Rodeo USA. The Miss Rodeo USA pageant is hosted by the International Pro Rodeo Association.
“I’ve been pretty busy up until now, and I would’ve been driving to Georgia, but now I’m held off for several weeks as pretty much everything is,” Wallace said.
“All IPRA rodeos are cancelled through mid-April, and we were looking forward to a good season, but obviously health and welfare takes precedence over everything else,” said Dale Yerigan, general manager of the International Pro Rodeo Association.
“I was encouraged with the latest news (this past week) that some of these former drugs used for other ailments are hopeful for people with COVID-19 (coronavirus.) I think everybody’s looking for answers and we’ll see what it looks like, in a few weeks. Meanwhile, all IPRA rodeos are on hold at least through mid-April. “But,” added Yerigan, “We’ll look forward to getting back to normal, or whatever normal is for us.”
No rodeo schedules are experiencing “normal” currently, as the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association on March 11 cancelled its popular RodeoHouston when that event was just one week into its three week run, due to concerns about COVID-19. The PRCA also cancelled many of its other rodeos into much of April. The PBR cancelled its Unleash the Beast events in April, and is exploring alternatives to broadcast these Unleash The Beast world points events via CBS, from a venue closed to the public. The Tuff Hedeman Bull Riding Tour on April 4 in Fort Worth, Texas, has been postponed.
The Cowboy Channel is giving fans 40 Nights of NFR airing the National Finals Rodeo (2016-2019) which began March 20, at 8 p.m. (ET) continuing through April 28, repeated nightly at midnight.
WAIT AND SEE
Since Miss Rodeo USA’s schedule is pretty full for the whole year, when an event is postponed, it may be tricky to find a new date. “Typically, I would have rodeo every single weekend, but it varies now with the whole coronavirus. So, it’s kind of a wait and see,” said the rodeo queen. “But, I can promote rodeo and agriculture through social media, the Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter and every couple of weeks.” She also writes a blog on MissRodeoUsa.com.
Being crowned the 55th Miss Rodeo USA on Jan. 19 at the International Finals Rodeo in Guthrie, Okla., was a shining moment for Wallace.
“Since I’ve been working for about five years for a title of this caliber, I’ve been in a mental mindset preparing to win, and when they called my name, my dad or sister made a comment, “You didn’t look surprised,” she said. “I knew I’d worked hard and was confident, when my name was called, I was prepared, and it was so exciting, and it’s hard to describe that feeling. So, in the rush of them putting on the crown and a new belt buckle, and being whisked away to go to an event, it didn’t really sink in until a couple days later until I got home. It’s hard to describe what I was feeling in the moment,” she added.
Then she immediately began working on a schedule.
“Since we’re only given one year to do as much as we can, I want to do as much I can. I represent the IPRA, and so I primarily will be at those rodeos throughout the year,” Wallace said. Although there are too many events to make it to them all (like the rodeo contestants do) when the rodeo schedule picks back up again, the new rodeo queen looks forward to staying at the same rodeo for the whole duration. “I carry the American flag, and work on promotional events, and I help promote everything we do.”
Agriculture is almost in Wallace’s DNA. She was born and raised on a farm east of Salina in central Kansas.
“Both of my grandparents had farmed and raised cattle. I remember helping my sister and I named all the calves (with the word Bell). “There was AnnaBell, Tinkerbell, Lulabell. At my parents house, we mainly had horses, chickens too, but horses were the biggest. I showed in eastern Kansas from age 2 to this last year, So for 23 plus years, I competed in English and Western (style riding).”
As part of her new position representing the IPRA and promoting the western lifestyle, Wallace had already begun visiting 4H groups, schools and other places. “Not just what rodeo is, but tying in the cowboy/cowgirl hard work and true grit. Then another week, I start over with a new group (usually,) and get as much rest as I can,” she said.
Visiting with children has already made an impact, through the new Miss Rodeo USA’s platform.
“Specifically at The Miss Rodeo USA pageant, you have to come to it with a platform which is part of the application process,” Wallace said.
Dream Bigger is Wallace’s platform. “The idea is to set our goals high to push ourselves to do more than we could’ve more easily set. That goal was much harder, but I knew through time, I could do it, and showing children the specific steps it took to do it, showcasing that some things take more time but that at the end of the day, the goal you succeeded in, was really worth it,” Wallace said, “and that’s where the ‘Dream Bigger’ comes in to push yourself that much more.”
When Wallace is back in the saddle, and rodeos kick back into gear, eyes will be wide open when viewing her attire.
“One thing that’s a little different for me than other rodeo queens, I wear a lot of my own creations, so it’s a little unique and different,” she said. “I wore all of my own designs at the Miss Rodeo USA pageant during the six days in mid-January 14-18, and coronation, which was at the final day of the IFR (International Finals Rodeo) so we were in rodeo attire then.
Wallace graduated from Kansas State University with a degree in fashion design in 2017.
With the enjoyment of designing her own specialized clothing, Wallace already has her next career idea carved out.
“After being Miss Rodeo USA, I’m going to start my own business, and make rodeo and western wear,” she said. “I want to keep mine very customized; one of a kind pieces for individuals.”
For now, Miss Rodeo USA is focused on the goals for her reign.
“One elementary school boy asked, ‘How old were you when you set this goal?’ said Wallace, noting, “I didn’t set this goal ‘til I was 19, and it took this long to reach it, but you can start setting goals. It was a really great question that stuck with me.”
For more information about Miss Rodeo USA and the pageant, go to http://www.missrodeousa.com. ❖
— Hadachek is a freelance writer who lives on a farm with her husband in north central Kansas and is also a meteorologist and storm chaser. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.