Charreada: more than just a rodeo

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Ernesto Acevedo (left) and his son Ricardo participated in the state charreada championships in Beecher, Illinois. Ernesto owns Lansing’s Three Roosters produce store, and Ricardo works there. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

Lansing represented in Campeonato Estatal Charro, the state championship tournament

BY MELANIE JONGSMA

BEECHER, Ill. (August 3, 2018) – Ernesto Acevedo has been riding horses since he was a 13-year-old boy in Mexico. But it’s only in the past five or six years, here in the States, that he has been riding competitively. This past weekend he and his son Ricardo participated in Campeonato Estatal Charro, the state championship Mexican rodeo. They are both members of a team called Camperos de Beecher (the Beecher Ranchers), the home team competing in the state competition.

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The costumes, music, and ceremony involved in charreada pay tribute to the military connection of the sport. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

Understanding charreada

“Mexican rodeo” is the most commonly used English term for charreada, but that term is deceptively simple. While charreada and American rodeo both involve horses and bulls, and some of the events are similar, the two sports are quite different. Typical American rodeo events are scored for speed and duration; many charreada scores are based on precision and grace. While both sports evolved from a history of ranching, charreada also conveys some military prestige, as the Charros (cowboys) were also an auxiliary arm of the Mexican Army. The costumes, music, and ceremony of charreada all pay honor to that military past.

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Daisy Herrera (left) and her friends serve beverages at the state championship rodeo. Herrera is manager of Lansing’s Three Roosters, and they have been the beverage vendor at the event for several years. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

The Lansing connection

Acevedo owns Lansing’s Three Roosters produce store, and they have been the beverage vendor at the state competition for as long as it has been held at Rancho el Consuelo in Beecher, Illinois. Three Roosters Manager (and Acevedo’s niece) Daisy Herrera serves beer and michelada, a beer-based cocktail made with chile and other spices. Acevedo and Ricardo compete.

This year’s tournament

The first round of this year’s state competition began on July 21, but morning rains that day caused delays. When the dirt floor of the arena is muddy and puddled, it is too dangerous for the horses, who depend on intricate footwork for many of the events. Throughout the morning, cartloads of a sand-and-sawdust mix were rolled in and raked over the mud, and by 1:00pm conditions were favorable enough to run a few events.

The schedule had to be adjusted because of the late start, so Acevedo did not compete last Saturday, But Ricardo did. In fact, he gave the crowd a scare when his horse lost control in the Coleadero event and fell hard—on Ricardo. Ricardo was shaken, and his memory of the fall is gone, but he rode again in the next round of competition on July 28. He did well enough to advance to the final round on August 4 and 5. The winning team in the final round will go to Mexico to compete there.

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Ricardo Acevedo gave the crowd a scare when his horse lost control in the Coleadero event and fell hard—on Ricardo. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

Videos of some of the events

Charreada consists of 10 events, and all involve skills that are part of ranch life—horsemanship, roping, controlling a herd, and riding untamed broncs.

Cala de Caballo. Competitors in the horsemanship or “reining” event demonstrate cantering, a slide stop, backing, and spinning. Scoring for the event takes into account style, distance, and detailed footwork:

Terna en el Ruedo. In the Terna en el Ruedo (Team Roping) event, a team of three charros attempts to rope a bull. The first lassos the bull by the neck as it circles the arena, and the other two team members lasso the hind legs and tie the feet together. The team has six minutes to accomplish this, and points are based on speed and style.

El Paso de la Muerte. In “the pass of death,” a charro attempts to leap from his own horse to the bare back of a wild horse and ride it until it stops bucking. In this clip, the wild horse was too fast for the charro and his steed.

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Extra points are given for rope tricks in some of the charreada events, and ranchers learn them early. During the rain delays that interrupted the first round of competition, a youngster passed the time by showing his roping skills to his friends. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

The finals

Rancho el Consuelo is located at 744 Church Road in Beecher. Doors open at 10:00am on the two remaining days of the championship, August 4 and 5. Call 708-913-7591 for more information.

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Ricardo and Ernesto Acevedo watch their teammate compete in the Cala de Caballo (horsemanship) event.

Three Roosters is located at 3224 171st Street in Lansing. Call 708-474-9922 for more information.

 

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