EL CENTRO — It’s almost time for aspiring Cattle Call royalty to saddle up and compete.
The Brawley Cattle Call Queen Royalty Association held its orientation Thursday evening to give girls the rundown on what they should expect come competition time in the fall.
While BCCQRA previously held an introductory meeting for the competition via Zoom in April, the group decided to host Thursday’s orientation in person.
Typically, the orientation takes place at Cattle Call Arena and Elks Lodge in Brawley. The year, however, it was held in the front yard of a board member’s home.
Contestants were arranged on hay bales and received three-ringed binders filled with everything they’ll need to know.
The young ladies are 6 to 23 years old. They hail from throughout Imperial County and are competing for one of four titles: Queen, Teen Queen, Junior Queen and Little Miss.
They will be studying the binders, which include the dos and don’ts of hair, makeup, horsemanship and rodeo knowledge, until it’s time to compete in October.
BCCQRA President Dana Mendoza, who ran the orientation, was pleased with the attendance Thursday.
“This is one of those years for the books,” she said. “I’m super excited about all of it.”
The competition itself had some difficulty in rounding up contestants last year. In 2019, the Queen, Junior Queen and Teen Queen went uncontested.
This year, the Queen, Teen Queen, Junior Queen categories have multiple entrants.
The only girl vying for the Little Miss title, however, is 7-year-old Harper Brandt, of Brawley. Despite her solo status in the contest, she is not guaranteed the title. She still has to earn scores high enough to qualify.
Kamrin Dickerson, 17, of Brawley, who was previously the 2016 Teen Queen, will be competing against Alexis Dees, 19, of Holtville, for the Queen title. Dees is new to the competition.
Katelynn Richardson, 14, of Imperial, and Gianna Irungaray will compete for Teen Queen.
Kalysta Lopez — a cheerleader turned cowgirl — took a year off from the competition after winning the 2018 Little Miss title. She’s back, and she’ll be competing this year against Audree Callens, 11, for Junior Queen.
Since the Cattle Call Queen competition separated itself from the Brawley Chamber of Commerce in 2017, it continues to rely heavily on support from past royalty. Mendoza herself was Queen in 1986.
2018 Teen Queen Rylee Locher and Junior Queen Chyenne Cox were present during Thursday’s meeting, and offered to assist contestants for any needed advice.
2013 Queen Carli Wood was also present.
“So are you ready for this Kayla or what, girl?” Wood said to Lopez. The two have known each other since Wood was appointed as the competition’s dance instructor last year.
2019 Queen Jessica Friley, Teen Queen Cidney Roper and Junior Queen Demi Vogel spoke to this year’s contestants and shared their experiences during their reigns.
“I’ve had an amazing time being able to carry on the legacy of other queens,” Friley said. “It’s just been amazing.”
While the first training meeting for the 2020 competitors won’t take place until Aug. 20, Mendoza reminded the girls to use their time wisely, as there’s quite a bit to study in their binders.
With the cloud of COVID-19 currently impacting every event, Mendoza said the association hopes to hold its coronation ceremony in its usual month of October in its usual fashion.
Last year, it was held at St. Mary’s Hall in El Centro.
To conclude Thursday’s meeting, contestants gathered for a group photo and shouted, “Rodeo!”