and what a fine crop to be the queen of. I made my way back down to Union County this weekend for the annual Corn Festival in my hometown(in which 'queen of our crop' was the theme)...this time as the Grand Marshal! This weekends events began in Lexington at the POW/MIA ceremony at the VA Medical Center. They set me up at the registration table to sign autographs, but any person who knows a veteran knows that they don't just want an autograph...they want a hug...no...an embrace! I gladly gave many. These are some of the greatest men and some of my greatest fans(and I am proud to call myself a fan of theirs as well). As I travel the state as Miss Kentucky I am free to take on any cause, pursue any dream, and set an example to children that they too can do the same...all because of these men. Thank you for my freedom. I also sang the National Anthem(one of two times I belted out the tune that day).
I then jetted off that slippery stage and rushed to the airport in the pouring down rain to catch a flight to Western Kentucky that Mr. Joe Craft so kindly invited me to crash on(ahh crash, wrong plane lingo, hop on?). We (we being Coach Calipari, Mr. Joe Craft, House Majority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins, Mr. Craft's 'sharp as a tack' assistant Kelly, and I) made our journey from Lexington to Union County for the grand opening of the River View Coal Mine. Mr. Craft took on yet another business venture in the face of the coal industry controversy, to provide over 600 jobs and to continue to power our state and country. I am proud of this project and to be a part of making sure this industry is understood, by helping people to realize the good that the coal mining industry brings to our economy and the people of our state(we're cleaning it up in the process to make it more environmentally friendly of course). I sang, Coach Cal spoke, Governor Beshear joked about only coming to see me again and then spoke. Several politicians, and of course my friend, Mr. Joe Craft made their way to the podium as well. Mr. Craft's passions for providing opportunity and for giving back is contagious...I caught it. Coach Cal disappeared underground to tour the mines momentarily, upon emerging he said that he would share something with his wildcats that he heard from a miner down there..."we go down together, we come up together". He nailed the hard working people of this industry perfectly. Then...for my favorite part...we all cut the huge blue ribbon with huge blue scissors...and no one cut off my ponytail! I was so proud to be a part of this event that will bring jobs to the good people of my county.
Slid out of that one then went on to my Alma Mater UCHS to drive my little brother Gabe(a freshman and homecoming candidate) in the ceremony. I helped with the crowning...a task that I still find emotional, even if I am putting a cardboard royal blue crown on a boy's head in the middle of a football field. Something else funny that I experience nowadays, I'm just sitting there(in this case in the football stands) and I feel someone rubbing the back of my hair. I sit there for a second, thinking maybe someone was walking by and accidentally brushed it, but it continues. I turn around and there is a PACK of the cutest little girls(one whom has been stroking my hair) wearing t shirts with my name on them and little crowns. They are my favorite little things in the world.
Next morning...Corn Festival. I was the Grand Marshal of the parade(which is quite the event in our town). I've been on about every float in the parade at one time in my life, but never even close to the GM. I realize that I may not be made for parades as I try desperately to have conversations with onlookers from atop the convertible...they can't hear me, I know this, but I just want to talk to them so badly that I do it anyways...maybe I'll throw candy next time(no, I can't be around candy). Then my mom and dad met me at the end and we raced to a local business for a costume change from formal to FRINGE! I wish I could wear complete fringed outfits all day every day...but I know I can't. I sang, in my fringe, for an hour. It is quite surreal standing on that stage in my town(that was once only a flat bed truck) singing to those same people who have been listening to me since I was 6 years old. I did Tina Turner and Reba songs, along with my grandma and papa's old favorites like 'Blue'. I told stories and invited all the little girls in the crowd to come up and sing 'Tim McGraw' with me. And of course, as I was wrapping it up with 'Famous In A Small Town' I can't help but cry...again...and I am so not a crier. There is just something special about that song and singing it at home. Oh my gosh I almost forgot! The Mayor of Morganfield(Mr. Jerry Freer) gave me the key to the city...the first he has given in his 11 years as mayor!! This was one of the greatest surprises and honors I have ever received.
Next day, back to Lexington. My mom had to drive me back while I slept in the car, revving up for my next event with Eddie Montgomery (from Montgomery Gentry) and his wife Tracy. This event benefited a camp called Horsin' Around, for sick children with everything from cancer to diabetes. It was a bikerish theme. I am such a poser and of course tied a bandana around my crown before jumping on the Harleys and signing autographs for my new biker friends. It is a style that I think every Miss America contestant should practice at least once during their reign. It makes you so much cooler.
Sorry for the photographic overload, but there was just so much to show you!!