Aguascalientes Holds Oldest Annual Fair in Mexico

Come with Lenora Hayman on this Magic Carpet Journal to visit Aguascalientes Mexico, where she discovers preparations for

The Running of The Bulls - Mexican Style!



Both the state of Aguascalientes and it's capital city owe their similar name to the thermal springs found in this central area of Mexico. Chichimec Indians formerly lived here but on October 22, 1574 King Phillip II of Spain founded the Villa de Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion de las Aguas Calientes (Village of Our Lady of Assumption of Hot Springs) to offer accommodation on the silver route between Mexico City and Zacatecas.

My reason for visiting was the National San Marcos Fair, the oldest annual fair in Mexico. Initiated in April 25, 1604, it is now a major commercial, industrial and agricultural exposition. It is held during the last 2 weeks of April and the 1st week of May. This year at the Hacienda Penuelos, where bulls are raised for bullfighting, Cesar Pastor, the bullfighter organized the first Aguascalientes Pamplonada based on the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. Children giggled with joy as young bulls under 4 years old chased them into the ring where bullfighter, Arturo Gilio along with 9 year old Juan Pablo Sanchez and 11 year old Joselito Adame showed off their torreadoric skills. Our US$14 ticket got us a paella lunch, open beer bar, Mariachis and fun at the bullring. I was fortunate to catch a famous Aguascalientes sunset from the Virgin of Conception Church at Penuelos.

Back in town I grabbed a bite at the Cenaduria Esthela Café on Jose Maria Chavez 644-A. A bowl of the soup Pozole Mixto with tongue, leg of pork and guacamole and a corn grain atole drink hit the spot. Then I headed over to the stalls lining the street near the Fiesta Americana Hotel and San Marcos Garden. Along with the wonderful and often very colourful Mexican craftware, I noted they were selling queso de tuna, the cactus caramel and also an assortment of CDs and watches found in many markets. Gambling and teenager drinking is allowed only during the fair. Tambara musical groups of drums, trombones and trumpets serenaded me as I made my way toward the sound of cheers. They were coming from the old Casino building. There bets were being placed on cockfights in the palenque and at the tables on the second floor. From that vantage point I got a great view of the San Marcos church stalls below. Over a million visitors come to enjoy Folklorico dances, ballet, free concerts, formal balls, rodeos and fireworks here each year.

AThe grand staircase at the Govenor's Palace 17th century neo-classical estate, now the Government Palace on the Patria Plaza, was my first stop the next morning. Its magnificent interior consists of 111 arches with 2 courtyards separated by a carved central staircase. Detailed murals by Chilean artist Osvaldo Barra Cunningham depict scenes of the San Marcos Fair and the history of Aguascalientes.

Time was short so for U.S.$3 I hopped on the new trolley bus whose 2 routes allowed hop on and off stops during its city circuit. For US $9. couples can get into a lot of hot water. At the corner of Alameda and Tecnologico 102. Avenues I found a little 19th century courtyard, where enclosed, Ojocaliente hot pools surround a fountain. They tell me that rheumatism, arthritis and liver ailments may be alleviated here. Next door modern large thermal swimming pools with a tower diving board and an health spa are offered. Another interesting stop was at the 200-year-old train station, now a museum, at the end of Francisco I-Madero Ave.

Exhacienda de San Luis de Letras - dairy farm and Bogeda Dinastia WineryMeeting friends with a car, we took a 30 kl drive to the Exhacienda de San luis de Letras hoy Capilla de Fatima, a combination dairy farm, retreat for nuns and Bodegas Dinastia Winery. Aguascalientes fertile soils produce fine wines and brandies but vintners have scaled down to hobby farms due to high taxes on Mexican wines & foreign imports. I made sure I tried, along with crusty bread and local cheese, all 4 kinds of wine the owner, Luis Carlos Hernandez Chacon produces: Merlot Sauvignon,Cabernet, Chardonnay and the sweet Christine de Dinastia.

Salut everyone!

Article and pictures by Lenora Hayman




If You Go:

You can travel by Bus: Omnibus de Mexico from Mexico City to Aguascalientes.

Or  by air:  Aeromexico 

Accommodation:       Fiesta American Hotel: 4 star          or                 Hotel San Jose on Hidalgo 27: budget.

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Last Updated on January 24, 2005 by M. Maxine George editor.  © 2003 Magic Carpet Journals. All rights reserved