BRAWLEY — The Brawley Cattle Queen Royalty Association held its inaugural Kickin’ It Country Battle of Bands event Saturday at Cattle Call Arena.
The event not only served as a fundraiser for the organization, but also as an opportunity to promote the importance of the various festival royalty competitions throughout the Valley.
“Yes, it’s here in Brawley, but the idea behind it is: Let’s gets all of these girls involved,” BCCQRA President Dana Mendoza.
2019 Holtville Carrot Festival Queen Courtney Walker waved on stage alongside 2018 Cattle Call Queen Brandi Whittle, Teen Queen Rylee Locher and Little Miss Kalysta Lopez during the event’s opening act.
Calexico’s Cinco de Mayo queen was also invited, but was unable to attend due it being Cinco de Mayo weekend, Mendoza said.
“This is an Imperial Valley event,” Mendoza said. “We cannot do this without everyone in the Imperial Valley. It was a no-brainer to invite them.”
Mendoza said she hoped that the Valley-wide support would help the fundraising event have a successful inaugural year.
Five bands, hailing from San Diego, Yuma and the Imperial Valley, volunteered to perform in the event, which had a $7 cover charge.
The winning band was determined among three judges, who tallied votes sent by text message from audience members. The winning band received a $1,000 cash prize and a contract to perform at the Cattle Call Queen coronation in October.
Along with using the funds to help pay for the Cattle Call royalty’s travel fees, BCCQRA hopes to raise the amount it gives in its annual Queen scholarship.
Last year, the Cattle Call Queen received a $1,200 scholarship. The Royalty Association hopes to raise that amount to $5,000 within the next five years, Mendoza said.
“That way we can really do something for the girls that put the work in and run for these titles,” she said.
The Cattle Call Queen contest had previously been the purview of the Brawley Chamber of Commerce, but it relinquished the contest into the hands of the newly formed BCCQRA.
That decision resulted in there being no contest in 2017, and no queen for the first time in the rodeo’s history.
A past Cattle Call Queen herself, Mendoza took it upon herself to form the BCCQRA in June 2018.
“You just can’t stop,” she said. “These girls … they’re busting their tails going to school, doing what they do. I feel like it’s my board’s and my personal responsibility that we provide things like this for them.”
Funds raised from Saturday’s Battle of the Bands event were especially important for the relatively new nonprofit group.
“When we took it over in June, we had zero,” Mendoza said. “All of this right here is my board and sponsors.”
The Cattle Call Queen competition expanded itself in 2016, allowing competitors from Imperial as well as San Diego, Riverside and Yuma counties to run for the queen title.
“We’re here to stay,” Mendoza said. “We’ve got girls coming up that want to run. We’ve got to be able to do this, and doing this fundraiser helps put us in the driver’s seat to get them to do more stuff and be able to make appearances in different areas.”