Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bienvenidos, Y'all!

Born to lift community spirits during difficult times, the Charro Days Fiesta arrives in Brownsville, Texas this week with the same dedication to bi-national friendship and respect for traditions that first captivated Brownsville 74 years ago. All weekend long, you can enjoy street dancing, live local music, a children's costume contest, a flour tortilla taco eating contest, Folklorio dancing, Mariachi music, 3 days worth of Sombrero Fest, Hispanic art and artists, unique food-booths, a jalapeno eating contest, the Grito yelling contest, a tortilla frisbee toss, a hat-stack relay, and the a Charro bean cookoff adorably titled "Frijolympics." Phew! What an awesome week!

During the Great Depression local business leaders decided to create an antidote to the gloom that engulfed Brownsville and the rest of the country - talk about awesome governance! They wanted to celebrate what made their community unique: it’s location on the border with Mexico, and the rich cultural heritage that comes with that interesting address. Maybe Arizona needs some eating contests.

Brownsville residents and visitors dress in the traditional costumes of Mexico and honor the Mexican cowboys -- the Charros -- who were heroes of the borderlands. Elegant costume balls, popular street parties and fireworks – all launched with an exuberant, traditional “Grito’' yell – contribute to the lively Charro Days celebrations.

“The importance of Charro Days goes back to 1937 when it was organized,” says Carlos BaƱales, executive director of the festival. “It was to unite two countries, to bring them together. We like to remember our roots and we like for people who come to Charro Days as visitors to know about our rich cultural heritage.” Charro Days Fiesta is held jointly in Brownsville, Texas, USA & Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico every year in the last week in February. Kudos to these lovely towns for celebrating history and diversity. Don't forget your sombrero and your spurs, and practice your Grito Mexicano!

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