By Kirk Kern

Anyone who knows me knows that during the second weekend in November, I’m going to the Brawley Cattle Call Rodeo.

Funny, I actually don’t go to the rodeo though. But I go nonetheless.Kirk Kern

The reason is I grew up in the town of Brawley, a Southern California town in the Imperial Valley that is east of San Diego County in the desert. You may not know the Imperial Valley, but I guarantee you’ve eaten food that is grown there.

Brawley, by general consensus, is the best town in the Imperial Valley. It’s not the booming metropolis that is El Centro and it’s not the tiny hamlet that doesn’t even have a grocery store or fast food restaurant like Holtville.

And if you’re from Brawley, you’re town pride comes out on Cattle Call weekend.

I haven’t lived in the Imperial Valley since 1992, when I moved to Las Vegas. But there has probably been less than a handful of times that I didn’t go home for the Cattle Call.

Through the years, the “Cattle Call experience” for me has changed. In my younger days, Cattle Call Weekend revolved around A LOT of alcohol. There are many great stories that have come from that era, but I’m not going to go into that because it’s none of your business.

But my days of drinking at the Cattle Call pretty much ended as I grew older and wiser … and when the Planter’s Hotel (the site of the annual Cattle Call dance) burned down. There is now a bank on that property.

Cattle Call weekend also used to be the same weekend as the annual Bell Game between rivals Brawley and Central high schools. Now that game is two week’s earlier.

So the drunk-fest at the Planters and the Bell Game have been chipped away from Cattle Call Weekend. Those were two big draws, but not the only ones.

I still come back for the Chuckwagon Breakfast, the Cattle Call Parade the annual post-parade party at my mom’s house.

My sister and I get up early for the breakfast, held at the Plaza in the center of town. There’s usually a big, long line of people waiting for scrambled eggs, pancakes and ham. In Chuckwagon style, long rows of tables are set up and people just sit and chat with neighbors along with the people coming in from out of town for the weekend.

Next up is the parade, by far the biggest and most-attended annual even in the Imperial Valley. When I was in high school, I participated in the parade by driving a scooter around with one of the high school cheerleaders, who carry a shovel and act as a “pooper scooper.” There were a lot of horses in the parade, so that job should be self-explanatory.

For the last 40 years or so, my brother and his friends have staked out the same spot along the parade route. We all still watch the parade from there today.

Finally, there’s the party at my mom’s house. My mom passed away years ago and my brother now owns the property. He carries on the tradition of the post-parade party. Friends and family gather at the house a couple of hours after the parade and eat barbecue. Horseshoes has now evolved into corn hole.

As the day turns into night, a fire is usually started. This year, my brother is introducing some fireworks into the mix. Oh yeah, there are two rodeo sessions on Saturday, one in the afternoon and one in the evening. I can’t remember the last time I went, but I’m sure it was a lot of fun.

So, here I am for another Cattle Call Weekend. It obviously isn’t my first and it definitely won’t be my last.

Kirk Kern is publisher and owner of Mesquite Monthly newspaper.