With just a little over a month since the the 59th annual Cattle Call Rodeo was held, work is already underway for the 60th rodeo to be held in November 2016, and for the Cattle Call Rodeo Committee it will be a busy year of preparation.
To make Cattle Call a success every year, it takes a year of preparation, so for the Rodeo Committee there is never down time.
As volunteers, they are willing to give their time every year to provide the Imperial Valley its own true professional sporting event, and every year they set the same goal – to make sure Cattle Call Rodeo is the best it can be and a match for any professional rodeo across the nation.
The Cattle Call Rodeo Committee includes Chairman Curtis Rutherford and members Robin Williams, Donald Alford, Larry Allen, Carson Kalin, Joanie Moore, Danny Williams, and Mark Huber. Most have been part of the committee for years—some for decades. Many have been involved with the Cattle Call Rodeo since they were children.
For each it is a labor of love that fills up an entire year, and the work never stops. The work cannot stop if all the pieces are to come together for the annual rodeo, which each year is attended by tens of thousands of rodeo fans, over the course of three rodeo performances held for two days in November.
Few events bring the Imperial Valley together like the rodeo. For a week leading up to the rodeo, the city of Brawley—where Cattle Call is held—enjoys a week worth of community events, organized by the Chamber of Commerce, that end with a parade and finally the rodeo events.
Rutherford is following in the footsteps of his uncle Ed Rutherford, who along with Carson Kalin’s mother, Louise Willey and friends Rick Smith and Al Smith, founded the Cattle Call Rodeo Committee. Al Smith is the lone surviving member of the original committee.
Curtis Rutherford recalls serving as a ticket taker and usher at the first rodeo along with Kalin. His love for rodeo began all those years ago and has never faded. He gets just as excited about the rodeo today as when he first started on the committee.
“I like the response of the crowds to the rodeo, to the events, and the clowns,” Rutherford said. “The fans keep coming back every year. They help keep it fresh.”
He also enjoys that the rodeo is a part of his family. Not only has he served on the Rodeo Committee for years, but his children have helped with the rodeo and his wife, Suzanne, has done her part as well. In fact, for the 59th rodeo, she designed and been the seamstress for new vests to be worn by the young Valley women who will participate in the rodeo.
Danny Williams is another longtime member of the committee who can remember helping out with the rodeo when he was a boy.
“Growing up, the rodeo was just instilled in me and was part of me,” he said. “I love rodeo. I love the people I’ve met through the rodeo. I just like to keep the tradition going. It holds a special place in my heart.”
Williams said that while the professional sport of rodeo is all about the competitors who show their riding and roping skills in the arena, no rodeo would be possible without the work of committees like the Cattle Call Rodeo Committee and the countless other volunteers whose hard work set the stage for competitors.
“Without the community support, there would be no rodeo,” he said.
Joannie Moore has been on the Rodeo Committee since 1988, but her history with the rodeo dates back years before when her father competed in roping events, and she herself was a Cattle Call queen.
She said she gives of her time every year because it means something to the community.
“I like being able to bring the professional sport of rodeo to the Imperial Valley,” she said, adding it is important to note that Cattle Call is sanctioned by the Professional Rodeos Cowboy Association and is one of the rodeos leading up to the Nationals held in Las Vegas.
Along with providing a professional sporting experience for the Valley, the rodeo raises millions of dollars for Brawley and Imperial County, which makes it an important economic event as well.
Much of the money from the rodeo goes back into Cattle Call Park, which keeps the park and the arena in operation year round.
Moore pointed out that thanks to the rodeo the Valley has upgraded horse pens where people can board their horses. Moore, who manages the pens for the Rodeo Committee, said what the facilities provide a state-of-the-art and safe facility for boarding horses.
To see the kind of upgrades and premier facilities at Cattle Call Park, it is easy to forget that 60 years ago the basin was an overgrown mix of brush and weeds. It was the vision of the original Cattle Call Rodeo Committee together with the city of Brawley and volunteers that over the course of a few months cleared out the basin and built the first arena so that rodeo would forever have a home there.
That vision has never faded for those who continue to make the rodeo happen.
Today the Cattle Call arena is viewed and recognized as being one of the finest facilities in the country. Cotton Rosser, who has been providing livestock for the rodeo since 1967, said the arena is one of the best he has been in and he credits the Rodeo Committee for its commitment to create such a “high-class” rodeo facility.
Rodeo committee members said they look forward to serving on the committee and organizing the rodeo for years to come and thank the community for its generous support and for the fans who come out each year to enjoy the fun of rodeo.