By Johnna Cravens courtesy Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo
“That’s my favorite rodeo of the year,” the 20-year-old Simpson, who lives less than an hour from Will Rogers Coliseum in Nemo, said. “Growing up I went to watch the rodeo plus I showed steers and pigs.”
As a teen, the glitz and glamour of the Jerry Ann Taylor Award for the best-dressed cowgirl in the championship round drew Simpson’s attention.
“I’ve always wanted to win that award,” she said. “This year was really special. I made the finals and won that award plus my younger brother Wylie won second in the biggest cross class there was in the pigs.”
Simpson, a sophomore at Weatherford College, is currently leading the southwest region barrel racing in the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association. She plans to attend TCU next year and major in communications.
She rides an 11-year-old horse she calls Toby Mac that she purchased last August and has only been riding about six months. She placed in the barrel racing at Odessa in January and qualified for a second run at San Angelo, in addition to placing in both rounds and the overall at Fort Worth.
“I didn’t want to think about what to wear Saturday night until I knew I made the short round,” Simpson said. Saturday morning, she sent a text to Kendra Dickson, a two-time winner of the award from Aubrey, Texas, who has helped three other winners with their finals outfits. Dickson and her TruColors custom clothing line offered to provide an outfit for Simpson.
The two cowgirls would share the prize money with Dickson’s share going to her Rodeo For A Reason charity that raises money for childhood cancer. Simpson has pledged her half of the award to abused women and children.
Dickson was already dressing Amberleigh Moore (winner of the 2018 championship) and had a second outfit prepared.
“I prayed that morning that if God wanted this navy and silver outfit to be worn in the championship round, then please send me a cowgirl,” Dickson said, “and Sadye contacted me.
Simpson arrived early, and Dickson and her team got to work. “I had to get sewn into my pants a few hours before the performance,” Simpson said. “I’m really not usually someone who dresses flashy, but the smiles from the little kids and them wanting to take their picture with me was fun.”
The Jerry Ann Taylor Award is presented by the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association and the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame and is only given at the National Finals Rodeo and at the finals of the World’s Original Indoor Rodeo in Fort Worth. Taylor, a 1986 National Cowgirl Hall of Fame honoree, was a flamboyant trick rider and roper who was known for her sense of style.
Pam Minick of Fort Worth, a National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame board member and honoree and former WPRA vice president, said the award is to encourage women in professional rodeo to carry on the tradition of wearing colorful western attire in the rodeo arena.
Barrel racing has a long history with the World’s Original Indoor Rodeo®. The Fort Worth rodeo began holding an invitational ranch girls barrel race in 1955, not long after barrel racing competition started.