From the slew of Fiesta events happening around town, not many can boast of what A Day in Old Mexico and Charreada saddles in. On Sunday, locals will have another opportunity to observe a peek at the lifestyle and customs of a charro, or Mexican cowboy.
For over 60 years during fiesta, the The Asociación de Charros de San Antonio (Association of Charros) has hosted the Mexican Rodeo (or Charreada) at the Charro Ranch, located on the Southside.
The Charreada is deep rooted in history. Originating in the 19th century, it was used by the elite to prepare horses and jinetes (horse riders) for war. Evolution of the craft over the years became a competition, where riders accomplish the feats performed at modern charreadas.
Due to the Mexican Revolution and the destruction it caused, the charro lifestyle was quickly dissipating. The issue was resolved in 1933, when the Federación Nacional de Charros (National Federation of Charros) was created to preserve and protect the traditions from vanishing into obscurity. To this day, charros across the nation adhere to the standards created by the Federation, from equipment to apparel. Locally, San Antonio charros continue the tradition, from dress to the various performances on display at an official Fiesta event called A Day in Old Mexico.
A traditional traje de charro, or charro suit is worn. With embroidered pants, wide-brimmed sombreros, and boots, it is the national image of Mexico. But whatever you do, don’t confuse a charro for a mariachi. According to charro lore, Mexican General Porfirio Diaz commanded a mariachi group to dress in charro suits while performing for the United States Secretary of State. Since then, mariachis have adopted the traje as standard attire, much to the chagrin of many charros.
The suit is an indication of Mexican dignity, wearing a traje requires responsibility and should always be properly worn. Most charros wear earthy hues and camisolas (embroidered buttoned blouses) working or riding. Even with simpler clothing, charros captivate audiences with the vast amount of dedication and effort showed in their horses. Every step and movement is adhered from a lifetime of training—a tradition carefully passed from generation to generation. Note that you will never see a charro wear a black suit, with full jacket, and silver buttons, because these are reserved for special occasions.
Expect dazzling performances at Day in Old Mexico, from lovely escaramuzas (female side-saddle riders), horse reining, to bulls being pulled by the tail. With plenty of food and refreshments, A Day in Old Mexico goes back to golden days out of the border, while keeping it family-oriented and fun. Experience the feel of a era long gone,with steadfast traditions beginning at noon at 6126 Padre Drive—admission is $15, for adults and $5 for children.