From Thursday until Sunday, the city of Rancagua will become the epicenter of Chile’s diverse rural cultures, hosting both the country’s most important rodeo and a festival to honor the Chilean cowboy – or huaso.
The 64th Campeonato Nacional de Rodeo (“National Rodeo Championship”), known simply as El Chileno, will kick off on March 29, rounding up huasos and huasas from the length and breadth of the country – as well as their straw hat-wearing entourages.
Far from being a throwback to forgotten days, huaso culture is still central to Chilean identity, and organizers are hoping to surpass 40,000 over the course of the four day event.
Among the crowd you can expect to see a contingent of youngsters and city slickers, who dust of their ponchos for just this kind of occasion, as well as wizened old farmers who were probably born in cowboy boots.
El Chileno will be held in the Medialuna Monumental de Rancagua, which has a capacity of 12,000. Entrance tickets range from US$12.50 (CLP6000) to US$57.50 (CLP28000) and can be bought in advance at Feria Mix stores, or at the FeriaTicket website. The championship can also be streamed live online here.
Dates and times: Thursday from 12:45 pm to 8:30 pm; Friday from 8:45 am to 9:00 pm; Saturday from 7:45 am to 10:30 pm; and Sunday from 7:15 am to 8:00 pm. There will be breaks between events and other activities held in the stadium. For a full schedule (in Spanish) click here.
Celebrating the huaso tradition
Running alongside the cow-catching antics and horsemanship of El Chileno, the city of Rancagua will throw a party in honor of Chile’s horse riding heroes in the Plaza de los Héroes.
According to the organizer of La Fiesta Huasa, Alejandro Elton, the idea is: “to demonstrate that Rancagua is the home of criollo culture and hosts the biggest weekend of rural culture in Chile.”
“As in every other year, there will traditional food sampling and stalls, spit roasts, lamb, rabbit and a variety of food typical to the region,” said Elton. “There will also be an impressive presence of artisans and musicians from around the country.”
Handicraft, gourmet food and local wines will also be on display at the festival, and visitors can expect to see plenty of cueca, Chile’s traditional dance.
Dates and times: La Fiesta Huasa begins Friday, March 30 at 12:00 pm, running on into the evening. On Saturday and Sunday it opens at 10:00 a.m.
Getting there: To get to Rancagua from Santiago by car, take the Ruta 5 Sur highway south. It is about a one hour drive. There are also daily buses from Terminal Alameda (Av. Bernardo O’Higgins 3570), Universidad de Santiago Metro Station and Terminal Santiago (Alameda & Nicasio Retamales, 150 meters west of Terminal Alameda).