Charros – Cowboy Up Jalisco Style

17 february, 2021

Neil Gerlowski

Charros are right up there with Mariachis and Tequila as one of Jalisco’s most important original contributions to Mexican cultural identity. The style of riding and attire that evolved in the rugged landscape of Jalisco diverged significantly from that of the mother country of Spain and even more markedly from other styles of the New World such as those of vaqueros (northern Mexico and US), huasos (Chile), gauchos (Argentina), and morochucos (Peru).

The basic components of a traditional charro outfit is a pair of leather boots, tight pants, chaps, a short jacket, and a wide-brimmed sombrero. Many other accessories are often added. While this attire was originally designed for practical purposes of riding and ranching duties associated with life in colonial haciendas, stylistic flourishes were soon added as signs of wealth, status, and identity.

These are especially notable in the attire and accessories of the charrería, also known as charreada, the rodeo-like displays of skills for those who worked the haciendas of Jalisco and neighboring states. For these occasions, charros are dressed in a manner more akin to a mariachi then what most would imagine as suited for the rough and rigorous feats of a rodeo.

Back in the early days of the haciendas, women were discouraged from participating in the traditions of the charros, but with the growing acceptance and participation of women in this discipline, a diverse wardrobe for charras and escaramuzas (participants in a synchronized riding event for women) adds to the color and splendor of the charrería.

The traditions of the charrería are still alive and well throughout Jalisco and the surrounding region. While Puerto Vallarta’s headliner annual event of this sport, the Campeonato Internacional Charro, has been suspended for 2021 because of the pandemic, many smaller towns have kept their events scheduled as planned albeit with adjustments for social distancing and other compliance.

Chimo, a remote and picturesque beach town between Yelapa and the tip of Cabo Corrientes, has the 2021 occurance of their annual charrería event scheduled to begin on the evening of March 16th. Those with a basic curiosity for the spectacle can arrive at 6 pm and stay for a few hours to get their fill of the excitement, but most of the charros and dedicated aficionados will continue on through the night until the wee hours of March 17th.

Chimo’s annual charrería event is just one excuse to visit this charming little town and explore its stunning shoreline along with its surrounding forests, hills, and mountains. The traditions of the charro keep alive the freedom of the pioneer spirit of Jalisco and can inspire the same in each of us.