Brigadettes offer fun in the sun – all for a worthy cause



Dale Griggs races through the Washington Poles

BRAWLEY – The Barbara Worth Brigadettes held their annual fundraiser gymkhana at the K.D.Danch arena Saturday morning with a full agenda for the 40 contestants that spanned the ages of 3 to past 60.


The chance to race your horse against your peers- turning, burning, spinning and de-pinning (the ribbon off a pigmy goat with an attitude) brought families by the droves to enjoy a day playing and supporting a great cause.


Although, the Brigadettes have held other fundraisers, the gymkhana is always their major one, benefitting the local Imperial County Humane Society. Contestants also were encouraged to bring financial donations or cat and dog food for the shelter.


Jessica Friley, 11 years old from Brawley, and her 14- year old gray mare, Pepper, have been regulars for several years. Jessica likes the speed of the barrel racing best. She brought two horses to compete in the barrels, poles, and keyhole race.


“Pepper is my barrel racing horse. I think we did pretty good. We’ll see,” Jessica said.


Marie de Yesso is the gymkhana co-chairman along with Barbara Smith for the Brigadettes. De Yesso has chaired the event for four years.


“We know what the club has to do to prepare for this. It is our major fundraiser. Everyone in the organization works to make this a success year after year. We are so happy with the great turnout and for Dale Griggs and all the work he does preparing the grounds for our invasion, “ de Yesso said.


“Barbara Smith did a fabulous job getting great prizes for the winners. She also worked hard on getting nice raffle donations,” de Yesso added.


De Yesso said it takes a crew to run the competition. She pointed up at the announcer’s booth as four ladies kept track of the correct lineups and announcements. Below, Marsha Boutwell manned the signups and took money. Other ladies sold food, handed out ribbons, and operated the silent auction.


Others were gatekeepers, arena stewards, flaggers, timers, and “go-phers”.


Grilled hot dog and hamburger odors drifted tantalizing from the food booth that also offered every homemade desert a sweet tooth could want. The raffle had everything from new blingy horse tack to 2 tons of Imperial Valley hay. The hay was a very popular item judging by the amount of tickets accumulating in the bowl.


De Yesso kept a tight eye on all the activity happening in the arena and outside of it, pleased with the turn-out, the sounds of laughter, the booths, and her fellow Brigadettes all working in synch.


Turning back to the arena, de Yesso watched a father keep pace with his 3 year-old daughter on her fast trotting horse, holding tight onto the lead line as they went around the barrels in the arena. She said, “Some dad’s have their work cut out for them today!”