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Re: Yippee-yi-oh-ki-yay . . . Gringo Day

Posted by Jane G on January 20, 2009, 3:14 pm, in reply to "Yippee-yi-oh-ki-yay . . . Gringo Day"

Excerpted from the January 17 edition of the Guadalajara Colony Reporter ...

After much speculation and misinformation about specific dates, planners have settled on February 5 through 8 for the 27th Annual La Manzanilla Fiesta de Toros celebration. The event will kick off in the plaza on the evening of February 4 with free ponche, a concoction of cane alcohol and other ingredients that makes normally sane people dance down the street behind a large spinning box (aka farola) and a hired band of horn players with a booming bass drum.

What has turned into a major La Manzanilla tourist extravaganza started out with much humbler beginnings, according to Canadian Dave Godin, event organizer from its inception in 1982. “Back when you could buy a case of beer and a bottle of rum for about a buck apiece,” he explained, “I was sharing some with a bunch of local guys. And they were all grousing about how La Manzanilla was too poor to have their own rodeo.”

Even the smallest villages throughout Mexico hold a rodeo, Fiesta de Toros, to celebrate their emancipation from Spanish landowners. Individual fiestas coincide with the date their Ejido was formed, giving the people management of the land on which they’d previously been, for all intents and purposes, slaves. Dave was so moved by their plight, as one often is in the throes of nationalistic camaraderie, that he volunteered to throw a rodeo for them.

The following morning, he says, he woke up with a bad case of “Did I really say that?” His companions of the previous night confirmed his beneficent offer. “So, after my initial reaction,” he said, “I rounded up Joe Hostettler and Steve Rutherford, about the only two other gringos in town at the time, and solicited their help.”

And help they did. They killed a few local chickens and ducks, bought a few cases of beer, and put on a feast for the town. Some of the ranchers brought in cows, and the boys rode them for entertainment. A lot has changed in almost 30 years.

Now it’s a four-day event, with a parade every night, daily luncheons of birria and all the trimmings open to all, bands and discos, and, of course, real bucking bulls. And, some things never change, there’s still plenty of beer.

Gringo Day, when expat residents of La Manzanilla officially thank our Mexican hosts for their hospitality and forbearance, is by tradition the first day, this year on Thursday, February 5. February 6 is sponsored by the Ejido on the anniversary of their original formation. A quick check of La Manzanilla rental availabilities indicates that there is still space available if you want to combine an escape to the beach with a true Mexican cultural event. Viva La Manzanilla!


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