BRAWLEY — The spirit and fun of Cattle Call continued after a colorful Main Street parade ended at noon Saturday, as fans proceeded two miles west and descended towards the arena to watch cowboys and cowgirls attempt to control bulls and horses during the 61st Cattle Call Rodeo.
To kick off the event, award-winning skydiver Kent Lane jumped out of a Cessna single engine airplane circling at an altitude of 4,000-feet right above Cattle Call arena. Lane’s descent was marked as he unfurled a large American flag, which at first was just a tiny speck, but soon appeared larger and larger. People took photos and videos as he descended and the cheering became louder as Lane listened to the applause on his headphone.
“I timed it to the patriotic song, God Bless America,” Lane said. So, by the last note of the song, he had landed right in the middle of the arena. Cowboys rushed towards the Stars and Stripes and carried and spread the flag among themselves, and as the national anthem was played, rodeo goers all took off their hats, stood, sang, and honored the flag held by the cowboys.
The opening was followed by the Cattle Call horse riders, each one carrying a flag from each military branches of the United States of America: Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps.
Announcer Randy Corley called out military veterans from among the audience and asked them to stand to be recognized by the community. A deafening applause followed, giving honor to past and present service members on Veterans Day, which coincided with Saturday’s rodeo performance.
Lane, a two-time world champion skydiver, has performed at the Olympics both here in the U.S.A. and at the Seoul, Korea Olympics in 1988. Lane said although he has performed for larger audiences, such as the NFL and Major League Baseball games, he finds satisfaction in a small town like Brawley. “It’s the best. I actually get more joy out of jumping in this area. It is a lot more difficult to do, because there are a lot more wires,” he said.
The main events in the two-hour rodeo began with a cowboys’ wild horse race that was followed by steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc riding, mutton busting, tie-down roping, team penning, women’s barrel racing, bull riding, and a performance by the Flying Cowboyz Motorcross.
Juan Salazar, a Brawley resident who attended Saturday’s show, said “I like the bull riding more than anything else. I just come and watch the cowboys do their job riding the bulls and manage the horses.”
Salazar was accompanied by his extended family. He also mentioned that his son, Juan Salazar, Jr., participated in last year’s mutton busting event. “He did pretty good,” Salazar admitted. “He didn’t participate today, because he was over the age limit.”
But contestant Johanie Lainez, 8, was still within the age limit. She participated in the mutton busting Saturday and won. Mutton busting is a competition for children ages 5-8, and under 60 pounds who attempt to ride a bucking lamb for at least 30 seconds.
Among the other children competing, Lainez clocked the longest time riding on the bucking lamb. “It was fun,” she said. “It was cool. I like it.” Lainez received a belt buckle, a ribbon and other prizes for her ride.
Although Lainez enjoyed herself, her mother, Cory Lainez, reacted otherwise. “I was a little nervous for her, because she’s my baby,” the mother confided. “She did awesome.This is the first time she’s done it.”