Fair Go in Aguascalientes Mexico

Located almost in the centre of Mexico is the state of Aguascalientes, which is also the name of its capital city. Normally the region is considered to be well off the tourists trail, but that changes near the end of April each year when over a twenty day period they hold the San Marcos Fair, which is possibly the most popular fair in all of Mexico.

It has been estimated that about seven million people visit the fair each year to enjoy the various entertainments on offer.

Unfortunately, some of the most popular activities involve animal cruelty, with bullfighting and cockfighting attracting some of the biggest crowds. I do try not to impinge my own cultural standards and traditions on people who come from a different cultural background, but I find that I do have difficulty understanding how anyone can be entertained by watching animals being severely maimed or killed. Of course, in certain areas of Mexico there is little respect for human life, so I guess it is a little churlish to expect the Mexicans to have a high regard for animal welfare when human wellbeing has such little value.

The organisers proudly declare that the “Palenque”, the cock fighting ring, is the largest in Latin America. The city of Aguascalientes is also home to Mexico’s only legal casino, which may go part way to explaining why the fair is so popular.

Despite the blood sports, there are some good and interesting activities at the 180 year-old fair. There are stages dotted around the grounds and some of Mexico’s most popular entertainers appear, as well as more traditional entertainers such as bands, folkloric musical groups and dancers who perform many shows over the festive period.

As with most rural fairs that are held worldwide, visitors can enjoy sideshow alley and a variety of thrilling rides, plus there is also a rural and agricultural perspective to the fair as well. Included in the programme are livestock shows, where farmers compete to win prizes for the quality of their stock, and the popular charreada.

Charreada is similar to rodeo, which evolved from the work carried out tending to cattle on the estancias following the Spanish conquest of Mexico in the 16th century. Participants in the charreada wear traditional charro clothing, and compete against each other in nine events.

The emphasis is on displays of skill rather than the pursuit of prize money, and the reward is honour, with men and women competing in separate competitions.

Although the fair has become more sophisticated of the years it still attracts the crowds who enjoy traditional Mexican entertainment.

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