EL CENTRO – Imperial County Farm Bureau members hustled dishing out barbecue, beans and coleslaw Friday at Ryerson Hall, feeding a non-stop line as the Valley rallied to raise scholarship money for the next generation of college bound ag students. This is one of five scholarship fundraisers the Imperial County Farm Bureau uses to award scholarships.
Helping in the trenches were the Southwest FFA club, running meals to the drive-by takeout station, cleaning tables, and helping wherever needed.
“Each year we ask a different FFA club to help us out with the fundraiser. Basically, the seniors are the one that will be receiving the scholarships so it makes sense for them to help us out and to understand the work involved in fundraising,” said Farm Bureau executive director Linsey Dale. “They are always good workers.”
Approximately 1000 tickets are sold at ten dollars each, giving the organization a solid amount of funds to divvy out to the applicants that matched their criteria. The scholarship fund is supported by private donations and their annual Farm Bureau Scholarship Barbecue.
Between the private donations, scholarship memorials, and the barbeque, close to $27,000 will be awarded. The memorials include the Vern Highley Memorial, Matt LaBrucherie Memorial, Raul Rodriguez Memorial, Jack & Pauline Memorial and FCSSW Annual Farmer of the Year Scholarships.
The meal featured their famous deep pit barbecue, beans, and old fashioned ice cream. The taste of the meat was familiar to many, as they used a recipe developed by Stan Mitosinka 40 years ago when he was president of the Farm Bureau. For the first time, however, the 93-year-old farmer turned the chore of seasoning the pounds and pounds of beef over to younger Bureau members.
Mitosinka was born south of El Centro near Highway 86 in 1923 during the depression. He recalled the Valley having no paved roads except the main highways. He attended McCabe School and graduated from Central Union High.
Mitosinka’s story is the American dream as he started at the bottom at La Brucherie’s Farm, and retired as their general foreman. On the side, he began working his own farming operation.
“I had my own operation for 44 years, we grew lettuce, alfalfa, grain, wheat,” Mitosinka said.
“Our barbecue used to be free out at the fairgrounds,” remembered Mitosinka, “but it started to cost too much, so we stopped. In 1977, when I became president of the Farm Bureau, everyone asked me about the barbecue, so we started it back up, but on a Friday night, and we charged with the money going to kids’ scholarships.”
It was at that time that Mitosinka started experimenting with various spices and seasonings to create the perfect combination for the tasty meat. He continued working the barbeque and seasoning the beef over the next four decades, until this year.
Nevertheless, Mitosinka still made it to the event Friday, coming with his wife, Frances, and his two children, Steve and Carol Strickland.
“I’m proud to help raise money for kids to learn about ag,” Mitosinka said. “Times are changing, technology is vital, there is a lot more to learn about farming now than when I started.”