On November 10, the birth date of José Hernández (1834-1886), author of the two-part gauchesque epic poem Martín Fierro (1872 and 1879), is celebrated in different parts of Argentina as Tradition Day. But in no other place is it celebrated like in San Antonio de Areco, the quiet Buenos Aires Province town that was the childhood home of Ricardo Güiraldes (1886-1927), author of Don Segundo Sombra (1925), a novel that exalts the gaucho.
Every year, on the Sunday closest to November 10 on the calendar, a big gaucho parade makes its way through the streets of the city. It is followed by a barbecue with folk music and dancing. In the afternoon there is a criollo horsemanship show and rodeo.
This year, various events and cultural activities related to this festivity began on the last day of October and will end on Tuesday Nov. 10. However, the most important activities will take place on Saturday Nov. 7 and Sunday Nov. 8. Admission to the Parque Criollo where the horsemanship and dancing shows take place costs 25 pesos for the weekend.
This Sunday, gauchos from San Antonio de Areco and other towns in the province will concentrate in the Parque Criollo at 10am. They will ride to the Plaza Ruiz de Arellano main square at 11am, and from there they will parade through the town’s streets with herds of horses and back to the Parque Criollo. Whoever wants to get good photos has to look for a good place on a curb around the square and occupy it at least an hour before the parade begins. If it rains – a very common event at this time of year – the equestrian events of Saturday and Sunday will be postponed until the following weekend (Nov. 14 and 15). However, the barbecue of Sunday Nov. 8, which will be served in the Parque Criollo at 1pm, will not be suspended in case of bad weather.
How to get there: San Antonio de Areco is 113 km (an hour and a half by car and nearly two hours by bus) from Buenos Aires on the Panamericana and National Route 8. Nueva Chevallier (4000-5255) and Pullman General Belgrano (4315-6132) offer several departures daily.
See the program at http://www.sanantoniodeareco.com/.
PHOTO CREDITS: Gaucho and folk dancing in San Antonio de Areco. Both by Bonnie Tucker.