I think it’s such an interesting position that I am in. I never felt like I was a part of the rodeo queen world but I spent one year in the mix and then I was out. To this day, I have never felt like I belong. In light of the start of 2017, I felt like 2016 was a complete blur. Just a distant memory, something that may or may not have actually happened.
Then I went to the coronation of 2017 Miss NPRA Sam Henricks. Sam was the Wild Rogue Pro Rodeo Queen last year, the first rodeo in my home state of Oregon. It wasn’t anything like what I had expected it to be. Here are two of my MANY memorable stories from that rodeo!
The Zika Scare of 2016
For starters I’m still convinced, to this day, that I got Zika. Sidenote: Don’t have children for two years. Probably won’t be a problem! 😉
When I got there, Sam was quick to start making jokes about the “dead ponds” or the swampy ponds that surrounded the entire fair grounds. The first night that we were there, there were mosquitos EVERYWHERE. Per usual, I was the one who got attacked by them.
I got bit on the back of my left hand and the forearm of my right arm. By the next day, it had swollen SO huge that I was pretending not to be freaked out while simultaneously trying to figure out how to tell everyone that I was dying. On the second night of the rodeo I ended up going to the EMT’s with the ambulance that is mandatory to be on site during a rodeo to see if something could be done for it.
“How did it go?” My mom asked, she was beginning to be concerned because the swelling wasn’t going down.
“The EMT was totally trying to hit on me,” I said with a mock, exasperated eye roll.
“Yeah?” She said with a skeptical look. “What did he say?”
“He demanded that I come back tomorrow,” I said with a laugh.
My mom just rolled her eyes at me, “Katie, is it that serious?”
“In all honesty, he told me that I needed to go to the emergency room.”
What didn’t help is that I work within the Oregon government and got an alert that said there was a potential case of Zika in southern Oregon. In hindsight, I have always wondered if that “potential case” was actually me.
I never got any pictures of the swelling, I was so absolutely mortified by the fact that my hand looked like you had blown up a plastic glove that I was trying to keep it as hidden as possible. I actually had a legit fear that my hand was going to bust open, it was so filled with swelling, and I didn’t like what my imagination was doing thinking that it was going to just pop wide open.
My hand was so swollen that I actually couldn’t hold my reins. As a rodeo queen, you are announced in the grand entry and you do a “run-in” or a “hot lap” while the announcer advertises your rodeo/title and you wave. You run in counter clockwise because in the cowboy world you hold your reins in your left hand (so that your right hand is free to hold your rope) and you wave with your right hand. My left hand was SO swollen that I actually had to hold my reins with my right hand and wave across my body with my balloon hand because it wouldn’t hold the reins (and my mare has A LOT of power).
The swelling lasted the entire weekend and into most of the next week. I will never know what exactly caused it to overreact so bad but I quickly learned that I had an allergy to whatever was happening when I was bit by southern Oregon mosquitos and always kept a bug spray in my horse trailer to save me from turning into a balloon.
The Attack of the Eyelash
Wild Rogue ProRodeo was the first Oregon rodeo but during that weekend I already felt myself mentally preparing myself for the next weekend; Union, the Rose Parade in Portland and the Sisters Rodeo. It’s a crazy weekend but I was nervous for the Rose Parade because I had told myself I was going to wear these HUGE fake lashes for the Rose Parade so that they would have the dramatic effect that I was going for with my outfit. The only problem was that I had NEVER worn fake eyelashes before! I thought that the Wild Rogue ProRodeo would be as good of a time as ever to get a start on it.
The last night of the rodeo, I put on my fake eyelashes and we had a great time. Sam had to get her leased horse back to the stable that night as it was leaving for a horse show and I felt so bad because her pickup wouldn’t start up. We somehow got the owners of the riding Longhorn specialty act to let their assistant for the summer help us out by taking Sam, her friend, myself, her horse and her trailer to the barn and back in the middle of the night (that’s what time it was by the time we decided to give up on the pickup working).
There was no AC in their truck and it’s already VERY hot in southern Oregon at the beginning of June so, sitting in the front seat, I rolled the window all the way down as we cruised through the southern Oregon back roads.
That’s when I began to feel it.
My right eyelash started to flutter, I could feel it starting to come loose. So huge were they that they were beginning to get lift off… right off my eyes! Before I could do anything about it I had a flash to what was about to happen which was
that it was going to fly into the back of the truck and hit one of the unsuspecting individuals in the back. I started laughing hysterically.
“What’s wrong?” Same asked as I manically laughed.
I just turned and looked at her, my right eye lash waving at her with it’s best rodeo queen run-in impersonation.
She immediately got what was about to happen and she too started laughing really hard.
I looked ahead and BOOM! Off went my eyelash!
“AHHHH,” yelled her friend from the back. “I just got attacked by a moth! Oh my gosh it’s in here somewhere!”
To this day, we have not told him it was my eyelash.
I also wonder if the Longhorn group ever found that eyelash and wondered the story behind it.
The Rose Parade – Sisters Road Trip
The next weekend was when I began my friendship with the 2016 Miss NPRA Beth Snider. Beth and I had such an intense weekend, it’s nearly impossible to explain the amount of people it takes to get you ready and get everything taken care of.
I had been at Union for two nights for their AMAZING rodeo where I got to meet some of the most amazing people! That night I made the long haul drive with my mom riding shotgun all the way to a house on the outskirts of Portland where my sister and dad were already with my horse for the Rose Parade.
Beth was having a similar weekend. It was her finals weekend at Central Washington University where two of her finals counted for the majority of her grade in the class. She also couldn’t get the day off of work because she works in the admissions office and it was the day before commencement. She also made the midnight haul with her gelding Pink to get to Portland where we met up and got ready for the big event.
After the parade, I couldn’t help but laugh as Beth kept nodding off during the awards banquet. I was originally supposed to ride with the NPRA Director to Sister’s because my whole family left as soon as the parade was over to get my horses to Sister’s so that they weren’t stuck in traffic since it’s a very close drive to get there in time. Beth was so exhausted however that Jean had me drive her so she could sleep.
WE WERE BOTH SO EXHAUSTED.
Honestly, it was probably the second most dangerous drive I’ve ever made due to the fact that we were so exhausted. I had to stop once and get a Pepsi and some snack foods because I didn’t know how I was going to stay awake. I had about 3 hours of sleep and Beth had one. It wasn’t a good combo.
Once Beth woke up from her nap, it’s about a three-hour drive from Portland to Sisters with a horse trailer, I asked if we could switch and just sitting in the passenger seat talking I felt much better. We rolled in about 15 minutes before the start of the rodeo but I was very thankful for my big sister Nicole for getting both my parade horse and my rodeo horse so that Beth and I could just jump on and SPRINT to the arena to make our run in.
Beth was a trooper all year, always being willing to help, always being her intelligent and sweet self! I loved having such amazing sash sisters in the state of Oregon this year!
I am so excited to watch each of these young ladies in the future! Sam will be an AMAZING Miss NPRA with her charisma, jokes, and great humor. Beth, we will see in the next few years, I am sure, as a Miss Rodeo Washington contestant. I cannot wait!