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Cattle Call Rodeo committee faces undaunting task month after month

October 27, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

BRAWLEY — For the members of the Cattle Call Rodeo Committee, preparing for the annual rodeo goes beyond a 12-month job — in fact one board member called it a 14-month job.

That's because the committee members, while working on the current year's Cattle Call Rodeo, also start planning for the next year's rodeo.

It's a responsibility in which the eight committee members take pride.

"This is a celebration of our Western heritage," said Donald Alford, who has been a member of the committee for a year.

Danny Williams, committee president, said, "It is truly not only a Brawley event; it is an Imperial Valley event."

The other members are cousins Curt and Phil Rutherford and Larry Allen, Carson Kalin, Joanie Moore and Louise Willey.

On Thursday, the committee met in the Stockmen's Club as part of ongoing meetings to put the final touches on the rodeo, scheduled for Nov. 10 and 11 at Cattle Call Arena.

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It is a nervous time for committee members, although they joke that all the pressure is on Williams since he is this year's committee president.

"Every day it's something new," Williams said. "It's the little things."

He said the committee must make sure everything is ready for the rodeo, from having the portable restrooms in place, to having the security ready, to preparing the parking areas, to the ensuring proper lighting.

The committee also has to think about money.

Committee members estimate it costs about $200,000 each year to put on the rodeo. While ticket sales may add up to more than $100,000, a portion of ticket sales covers prize money for the contestants.

That means money from sponsors plays an important role.

Committee members said without money from sponsors, the rodeo would not be possible.

Committee members added the Cattle Call Rodeo is not just part of the Valley's tradition, it has become an important part of professional rodeo. Cattle Call is sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and each year the rodeo brings out some of the best cowboys in the country.

Committee members also said there is one element of the local rodeo that makes it unique from other rodeos.

The rodeo provides other local nonprofit organizations from throughout the Valley a chance to put out booths and raise funds they need for their services.

"Almost all food concessions are run by local service organizations," said Kalin, who added the rodeo committee "thinks it is a good idea that local civic organizations enjoy those proceeds."

As for the rodeo committee, it, too, is a nonprofit organization.

Any funds it takes in go toward planning the next rodeo. The committee also has a contract with the city in which for 30 days before the rodeo and 30 days after, the committee is responsible for the care and maintenance of Cattle Call Park.

As difficult as it may be to put on the rodeo, the committee members stick with it for long tenures.

Willey has been a committee member since the inaugural Cattle Call Rodeo more than 40 years ago. She is considered a first-generation committee member by the others on the board.

The Rutherfords and Carson are considered second generation in that they have followed their parents onto the board.

Moore, a former Cattle Call queen, has been on the board since 1988, Allen and Williams have been members since 1996, and Alford has been on for a year.

Alford said he plans to stay for a while. It is the rodeo that brought him to the Valley, and it is the rodeo that has kept him here, he said.

For all the members of the committee, making sure the rodeo takes place every year is a tough task that at times can be a thankless one.

"There is not a lot of upside to this," Alford said. "It is a lot of hard work."

He said pride in putting on a good show is what keeps the members going.

"There is a lot of pride in it,' Williams said. "When you do mention Brawley, people know of it; people know of the Cattle Call."

Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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