BRAWLEY — Flashy dresses, sleek trajes de charro, and crooning galore marked Cattle Call week’s first ever virtual version of its community favorite Mariachi Night Wednesday, November 11.
The annual crowds of 8,000 to 10,000 locals morphed into virtual viewers who tuned-in to Brawley Chamber of Commerce’s Facebook page or YouTube to view the staple event.
This year, 10 singers submitted videos of them singing one mariachi song and virtual crowds voted for their favorite via Facebook “like” from the end of the premier until 9 p.m., said Chamber CEO Katie B. Luna.
Mariachi Night winners were first place winner Arturo Cossio with 340 votes, six-time participant and fan favorite Miriam Baca with 329 votes, and 13-year-old Azul Mercado with 306 votes.
The singers had varied reasons for participating in the virtual version of Mariachi Night, with many saying the format allowed their families to support them in new ways.
“This year was fun because my husband and my family helped me to setup like a stage at my house and we did this banner with a mariachi in the background. We had a lot of fun with the family,” second-place winner Miriam Baca said.
“In my case, I wait for this day the whole year: Thinking of the song, how I am going to dress,” Baca said. “This year I bought a dress — the one I am wearing in the video — and I chose the colors of Brawley high school.”
Contestants entered online, submitted videos of them singing via Facebook, and the Chamber put them together in a 43-minute production. Submissions were gathered for about three weeks until the deadline of November 4.
Luna said the community gave the Chamber a lot of feedback regarding the virtual Cattle Call week events this year, and though there was resistance initially to a virtual-only format, she said as the week went on “people are getting more and more excited because they realize they don't have to give up our tradition. They can still participate and still have just as much fun.”
“It would not have been responsible as a Chamber to encourage crowds the size that we have during Cattle Call to gather at the expense of our business community,” she said. “It's important for us that we celebrate but we don't want to gather and cause our (COVID) numbers go up and then we don't see our community re-open.”
“If we had to do this all over again we would still do it this way because if it means we're not gathering that means our businesses can open sooner and people can go back to work sooner,” Luna said. “For the Chamber, our most important goal is we have to get our businesses back open so people can go back to work.”
Luna said she is grateful the Chamber has adapted through the COVID-19 pandemic to still have the Cattle Call events available for the community.
“I hope that brings hope,” she said. “I hope that people feel comforted and nostalgic; that they miss what we had but they're grateful for what we have. I know us for sure, we miss so much what we had and took for granted every year, but we are thankful that we can still provide this as a comfort to the community.”
Luna said the Mariachi Night event was also dedicated to the loss of Desert Pro Sound and Lighting owner “Kiko” Guerrero, who provided the sound, lighting, and staging for Cattle Call week for many years.