Virginia Smith                                                      

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Virginia's Coronation Celebration      
Pageant for Miss Rodeo Illinois & Teen 2016 Pageant 2016 Horsemanship Miss, Teen & contestants at Palestine rodeo  
Buckle Ceremony Miss Rodeo Illinois & Teen 2017 Pageant 2017 Horsemanship Main Street Saturday  
At the Palestine rodeo      

(The newest blog is at the top.)

Denver Market & National Western Stock Show 1-17-16 - 1-23-16

After my coronation, I hit the ground running traveling to Denver, CO, for my first official appearance as Miss Rodeo Illinois 2016. The morning after the coronation I headed up to St. Louis to board a plane and fly by myself for the first time. I didn't just get my feet wet right off the bat, I jumped in head first!
On Monday, I kicked things off at the afternoon rodeo performance. Helping out with the audience giveaways and mutton busting was a great way to start off the week. After we left there I went with several other state title holders over to the Denver market to meet with some of the sponsors who were set up there. Thank you to Joy Higgins for sponsoring a pair of beautiful boot rugs for me to wear this year! 
Tuesday morning we had the opportunity to go to the Denver Children's Hospital. The hospital put on a whole rodeo themed event that included a great band playing country music and college cowboys and cowgirls showing the kids how to rope the dummies and even run barrels with their stick horses! I loved going and signing autographs for the children and their families. It was truly inspiring to meet some of the children there that are going through such hardships, but are still able to make the best out of everything that life has handed them.
That afternoon and evening we had two rodeo performances to attend. I was one of the girls that was able to ride and carry flags in the afternoon perf. Before each event, one of us had to carry the sponsor flag for that event. Then later in the performance, we carried 12 flags back to back with 5 girls on horseback. That was a rush for sure! I was so excited to be apart of the perf for my very first time as MRI! During the evening performance myself and some of the other girls helped with the giveaways and mutton busting again.

We were up and going early Wednesday morning to head downtown to the State Capitol building. Mr. Steve Holdren was gracious enough to be our host and show us around. There were about ten of us that went to the Capitol to meet some of the Senators and Representatives and to be introduced on the Senate floor.

Later that day we went back and had two more perfs to work at. I was able to ride again on Thursday, in the evening performance as well as in both of the performances on Friday. The horse I was assigned to ride in each performance was Cervi Championship Rodeo's flag horse named Yuma. Good old slow and steady Yuma took very good care of me! 

Thank you to Jodi Martin-Witt for hosting us at the Denver Stapleton Courtyard by Marriott and Anneliese Phippen for coordinating all of the state queens' visits to the Denver National Western Stock Show! My first trip to Denver was a great one and will hold many wonderful memories for me. It was a great way to start out my year as Miss Rodeo Illinois 2016!

-Virginia Smith
Miss Rodeo Illinois 2016

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Coronation Fundraising Event 1-16-16

Wow what an exciting way to start out my year as Miss Rodeo Illinois 2016! On January 16, we hosted my coronation fundraiser at the World Shooting Complex's Seasons Event Center, in Sparta, IL. The evening included a prime rib dinner, the official crowing of Miss Rodeo Illinois 2016, silent auction and raffle items, live auction of the first dance with MRI 2016, and a dance with music provided by the legendary Well Hungarians! It was very humbling and inspiring to look around the room at the amount of people that had all come to support me and help me kick off this wonderful year ahead of me. Having all of my friends, family, and even some of my sponsors there with me on such a special night meant the world to me.
Ariel Wienman, Miss Rodeo Illinois 2015, had asked me ahead of time if she could give a year-end speech during the crowing ceremony. Little did I know that she had something totally different planned. When Ariel started to give her speech, she turned it into a surprise sponsorship from herself and Just Horse'n Around Tack of trophy saddles for Olivia Faith Reed, Miss Teen Rodeo Illinois 2016 and myself! This huge surprise was the cherry on top of the cake for the night. I am so grateful that Ariel would set up such a generous gift for us. I hope that I can pay it forward and do the same for the future Miss Rodeo Illinois 2017. 

Jon Weatherfield with the Seasons Event Center helped us to coordinate the entire event and we could not have done this without him! Another huge part of the evening was Johnny Holzum and the Well Hungarians. Thank you to the band for coming and rocking the evening with us! Having you be there to play was great! 

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who came out to celebrate with me and to those who couldn't attend, but were generous enough to sponsor me.

God bless you all. Stay tuned for my next blog post!

-Virginia Smith
Miss Rodeo Illinois 2016

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