Mini Rodeo delights special needs kids at Cattle Call Arena

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A participant in the hide race hangs on at the 2017 Brawley Cattle Call Mini Rodeo. Lloyd Miller photo.

 BRAWLEY — The 29th Annual Cattle Call Mini Rodeo was held Wednesday, November 8, with a record crowd of over 500 at the Brawley Cattle Call Arena. Attendees were mainly special needs individuals from throughout the Valley.

The Mini Rodeo is held for those with special needs who have a difficult time negotiating the large crowds and stairs at the Brawley Cattle Call Rodeo. It is a shorter version of the rodeo that is packed with thrills and horsemanship by talented locals. The Mini Rodeo is only open to invited guests. Without the effort of local cowboys and cowgirls, these kids may not have the opportunity to see a rodeo, organizers say.

Some of the events were barrel racing, the fox and hound race, pole bending, team roping, bull riding, gunny sack racing, and hide racing.

The Cattle Call Mini Rodeo Committee consists of Chairperson Julie Reeves, Joanie Moore, Cheryl Foster, Brett Leavitt, Lauren Hutchinson, Patti Wilson, and Ashley Taylor. Joanie Moore founded the Mini Rodeo in 1988.

The community event featured over 100 local volunteers and contestants. The El Centro Naval Air Facility also sent a crew out to assist the children and those in wheelchairs to ascend stairs and enter into the stands.

“Our mini rodeo went really well,” said Reeves. “It was really good this year, because I got calls from several organizations and teachers that had not heard about it before. They got to come for the first time this year. That was exciting to get more kids from the special needs community to come and watch this. That’s what we do it for.”

“We are excited to have some new groups that provide for special needs help us this year,” continued Reeves. “We now have the Easter Seals and a group that works with autistic children and young adults, too. The Brawley Union High School Rodeo Club really stepped it up this year. They helped at the gates, they helped with the wheelchairs, and they helped with parking. Most of those putting on this event are youth, whether they are a contestant, clown, or part of the arena crew. It is a great time for them to learn empathy and develop a desire to serve those less fortunate.”

Brett Leavitt said, “I thought today went so well. I love seeing the kids and I love that it’s kids performing for kids and doing this for kids. It looked like all the kids that came out to watch had a good time and I think all of the kids performing had a good time. They all did very well. I am proud of everybody that helped and performed. It is really special to be a part of the Mini Rodeo. It is my favorite day of the year. Thanks to Joanie Moore for starting the Mini Rodeo.”

“Three generations of the Reeves family participate in the Mini Rodeo,” said Moore. “The Mini Rodeo will continue for years to come. As long as there is a rodeo, there will be a Mini Rodeo.”

“We couldn’t do this without the help of the volunteers and the generous sponsors,” said Reeves.

The 61st Annual Brawley Cattle Call Rodeo is November 11 and 12.

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