I’ve always found it kind of freaky how excited people around the Valley get when Cattle Call Week and the rodeo come around.
Suddenly people you encounter are bonafide country folk, trading in their flip-flops for Justins and their ball caps for Stetsons. It’s kind of ridiculous, but I’m starting to understand the charm as I get older and more parental.
Rodeos still aren’t my cup of tea; I’m ready to leave a half-hour after it starts. But my daughter loves it, especially when the animals get dangerously close to the boxes. And who doesn’t love to watch their children enjoy themselves? It’s exciting to see your kid scared, exhilarated and rolling with laughter all at the same time, and I realize this truly is a family event. That’s evident by the sold-out performances and the hundreds of smiling faces.
What continues to surprise me, though — and this is one of the real reasons I found this to be a fascinating and timely issue for a column — is the lack of rodeo criticism in these parts, and that’s good for the Valley, I suppose. You’re not going to see PETA-philes roaming Cattle Call Park with buckets of red paint or sandwich boards with blown up photos of broken-backed broncs twitching in pain.
For one thing, the shiite kickers around the Valley probably wouldn’t take all that kindly to a bunch of dirty liberals gay-ing up the rodeo, one of the most macho events I think I’ve ever been to.
When I recently read a letter to the editor in our paper taking a stab at animal cruelty and rodeos, it was the first time I can remember a publicly negative sentiment being uddered (yes!) about Cattle Call, with the exception of what has now become yearly queen controversies.
It’s due to demographics, and even that is strange and confusing. We’ve always been an ag community and primarily always will be. But we have also now become a largely Democratic population, and most people throughout the U.S. equate Democrats with liberals, and liberals with people associated with causes like animal cruelty awareness.
Not so here. That has to do with the kind of Democrats we are (read: Latino Democrats). Latino Democrats aren’t the same as white or black Democrats; this isn’t racist, it’s reality. It’s a cultural thing.
Black Democrats and Latino Democrats are for the most part socially conservative. But Latinos seem to take it a step further: the Latino culture is highly machismo, one in which man rules over the elements and the animals.
Who doubts that cockfighting still secretly pervades in Imperial County? Not I. Mexicali’s Fiestas Del Sol still has cockfighting as a dominant attraction.
For these reasons rodeos in the Valley will never come under widespread criticism like they would in larger communities with more diverse views. Animal activists protest rodeos in big cities because they will not be alone in their criticism.
Here, you’d get your head stomped in. If not that, you’d get a big dose of “who gives a crap.” I’m more of a “who gives a crap” kind of guy. I’m not going to shed a tear over some cowboy driving his spurs into a side of beef, that is, unless I chip my tooth on a steak with a shard of metal in it.
That’s just me, and I’m a product of culture and location. Rodeos are what they are; celebrations of an industry and above all, entertainment. They’re a glorified farmers’ market with the potential for broken necks.