With top-notch equestrian teams out for glory and three extraordinary mariachi bands on hand to set a festive beat, spectators attending the final rounds of this year’s Mariachi Festival Charro Championship enjoyed a whole-enchilada Mexican spectacle, with thrills and chills keeping them fixated right down to the last second.
From 27 charro teams registered for the four-day contest, the field was whittled down to six finalists vying for the championship title in the back-to-back charreadas held Sunday, September 6 at the Nito Aceves Lienzo located in La Calera, Tlajomulco.
The arena was packed to the rafters with an appreciative crowd that applauded the rousing tunes of famed U.S. mariachi troupes Garibaldi and Los Camperos de Nati Cano and Guadalajara’s own Mariachi Real, demonstrating equal enthusiasm for the skilled horsemen showing their stuff in the ring. Tequila flowed in abundance, folks chowed down tacos, fresh corn on the cob and other typical snacks, adding extra flavors to the exhilarating ambience.
Nayarit’s Rancho El Quevedeño racked up a superlative score of 402 in the noon contest to place well ahead of Tres Regalos, Quintana Roo with 373 and Charros de Cuernavaca with 304.
Entering the ring at 4 p.m. were three of Jalisco’s top-ranked teams: Rancho El Secreto, Rancho Las Cuevas and Tres Portillos, the favorites godfathered by Ranchero singing star Vicente Fernandez.
Going into the last event of the day – the hair-raising Paso de La Muerte (leap of death) – Tres Potrillos had accumulated 406 points to take the lead. Riders for El Secreto and Las Cuevas nailed the bareback jumps from their galloping steeds onto the backs of untamed, unbridled mares to add 20-plus points to their respective scorecards. Up last for Potrillos, Irineo Reyes successfully landed the leap before the mare suddenly stumbled forward, pitching him into the dirt for the maddening zero that left the team second place, just two points behind Las Cuevas.
Charro action resumes at the Nito Aceves Lienzo September 17 through 27 with the Campeonato Oportunidades Occidente, a last-chance competition to qualify for the ultimate national championship to be held next month in Queretaro. Charreadas are programmed for noon, 3:30 and 6 p.m. each day. To get there turn off the Guadalajara-Chapala highway at the Cajititlan exit, take a left turn following a big sign at the first speed bump and drive two blocks into La Calera.