Feria de Mataderos

The countryside comes to Buenos Aires on Sunday
By Bonnie Tucker / FST
May 25, one of Argentina’s most important national holidays, draws nigh, the Mataderos Fair is preparing enhancements to its usual program dedicated to popular rural customs. In addition to zambas and chacareras, dancers in 19th-century attire will perform the pericón, a local dance that was the rage during the independence period. Gauchos from the best rural tradition clubs will run ring races, and kids and their parents will enjoy sapo, taba, sack races and other children’s games of yesteryear.
Since 1986, this municipal crafts and regional food fair has been offering city slickers free gaucho horsemanship shows, folk music recitals and the opportunity to join popular street dances in front of the centenary building of the Buenos Aires Stock Yards.
Located about an hour by bus from downtown, and less by motorway, the fair is for local consumption and does not attempt to attract large contingents of foreign tourists; everyone arrives by regular bus or by their own means. Despite the fact that big-name singers attract tens of thousands of fans, the only bathrooms available are inside the Museo de los Corrales and the restaurants around the Plaza del Resero.
The ideal thing is to go after midday, buy a tasty torta frita (fried sweet dough), empanada meat pie or chipá (manioc and cheese bread), and browse the crafts stalls until the ring races, the main attraction, begin around 3pm. Sand thrown on a street serves as a track for successive riders who gallop their horses beneath a frame from which they attempt to snatch a suspended ring with a pencil-shaped device. As the competition progresses, the rings get smaller and smaller.
The fair is held at the intersection of Av. Lisandro de la Torre and Av. De los Corrales from 11am to 8pm on Sundays from April to December and from 6pm to midnight on Saturdays during the hot summer months.