The road to the NFR is paved with dreams, both fulfilled and
broken. Though it is traversed by many, few are declared
world champions at the end. Most will agree, the destination
is not the sweetest part. It’s the journey down the road that
remains with them for a lifetime.
The well-worn road leading to the Thomas and Mack tells the
tale of more than just the top fifteen competitors in eight
rodeo events. Of the more than 150,000 people in Las Vegas
last December, only 135 wore a back number. The unsung
troubadours of the National Finals Rodeo come in the form
of rodeo queens, pickup men, stock contractors, rodeo
personnel, fans young and old, bull fighters, arena crew, chute
and gate men, and rodeo announcers.
THE ROAD TO MISS RODEO AMERICA
At just six years old, Taylor Spears’ road to the NFR began.
A record breaker in her state, she has dreamt of taking a hot
lap around the Thomas and Mack since she won her first title
as Miss Rodeo Oklahoma Sweetheart. She is the first in
Oklahoma to win the title of sweetheart, princess, teen and
finally, the title she holds today, Miss Rodeo Oklahoma.
“The most unique part about my road is that I have worked
for this my entire life, literally,” Spears said. “Come December,
this is the moment, the final draw, this is my one shot.
Preparing has been mentally challenging for that because
I have just been able to go on and live out this year to the
fullest, the year I have been working towards my entire life.”
Miss Rodeo America hopefuls from across the nation have
also been dreaming of Black Hills Gold their entire lives. The
fierce competition kicks off for each young lady the second
her state crown is placed on her hat.
During the eight days of appearances, speeches, fashion
shows, written exams, interviews and horsemanship patterns,
the contestants are put through the paces.
Judge writing scores after a bulldog run at the Woodward Elks Rodeo in Woodward, OK.
Justin Rumford with Bandy Rumford at the Woodward Elks Rodeo in Woodward, OK.
Taylor Spears, Miss Rodeo Oklahoma 2018 at the Woodward Elks Rodeo in Woodward, OK.
Taylor Spears, MRO 2018, with the American Flag surrounded by the Slash O Longhorns out
of Woodward, OK at the Woodward Elks Rodeo in Woodward, OK.
All photos by Annie Jo Gilbert of Roan Pony Productions. Rodeo LIFE 123