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Arts & Culture

Cherish The Charreada: An Old Tradition Thrives In San Antonio

 The Charreada was held on the final day of Fiesta 2021.
Jiawen Chen
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The Charreada was held on the final day of Fiesta 2021.

There exists in San Antonio a tradition in horse riding that you don’t find in a lot of cities. It’s called a Charreada and locally it’s put on by the Asociacion de Charros de San Antonio. In short, it’s a Mexican-style rodeo.

More accurately, the Charreada predates and inspired the American rodeo, and is something that continues to be passed on from one generation to the next in San Antonio. The Charro Association that puts this event on is the largest and oldest on this side of the Rio Grande.

 The charro heeds his horse to a stop.
Jiawen Chen
The charro heeds his horse to a stop.
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 The Charreada is held on the last day of Fiesta 2021.
Jiawen Chen
The Charreada is held on the last day of Fiesta 2021.

It varies widely from a rodeo put on by cowboys in a lot of ways, but the most obvious is by the way participants are dressed. Men are dressed in suits with detailed stitching on arms and legs, and usually capped off with a sombrero.

“I began doing this when I was 15 years old,” said Jose Jimenez, one of the members of the San Antonio Charros. “It feels great being back here again with all my friends and teammates.”

 Jose Jimenez, on stand by, awaiting for the beginning of the Charreada.
Jiawen Chen
Jose Jimenez, on stand by, awaiting for the beginning of the Charreada.

Escaramuzas, female counterparts to the charros, have their own style: they wear festive ruffled dresses, and they side straddle the horses.

“We sit differently with legs to the side,” said Cecioia Alvarez, captain of Escaramuzas Rosas de Castilla. The horses are used are highly trained, many capable of going from a full gallop to fully stopped in a very short distance.

 Female riders or Escaramuzas in thick dresses, rides side saddle.
Jiawen Chen
Female riders or Escaramuzas in thick dresses, rides side saddle.
 The Charreada is held on the final day of Fiesta 2021.
Jiawen Chen
The Charreada is held on the final day of Fiesta 2021.

At some events there are trick ropers who do elaborate stunts with the rope all while standing on top of their horse’s saddle.

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The events locally are held at a small stadium at Mission County Park on the Southeast side behind the Mission Library. The events held there are very traditional, and you get the sense that if you went back 30 years what you see would be nearly the same.

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Jiawen
IMG_8210 (1).jpg

Several Charreadas are held outside of Fiesta, and can be found at the Asociación de Charros de San Antonio Facebook page.

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