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In 1981, the Fiesta Commission hired me to document several dozen of their official events during the ten days of Fiesta. On my assignment list, the last event on the last day of Fiesta was something called A Day In Old Mexico, at the Rancho Del Charro near Mission San José. I had never heard of this before and had no idea what to expect. Little did I know that my experience that day would have such an influence on the thematic content of my photography over the next 35 years, and would allow me to discover significant facets of my Hispanic culture.

Charreadas actually predate American rodeos. Deep rooted traditions of gallantry and horsemanship are reflected in the Charros’ elegant, elaborate attire, their finely-crafted riding gear, and their social mores. I learned that the Associación de Charros de San Antonio, formed in 1947, was the first North American Charro Association accredited by the Asociación Nacional de Charros in Mexico. As in Mexico, the San Antonio Charros revolve around groups of families that have nurtured the Charreada tradition from generation to generation.

Charros and Charreadas immediately became my obsession. Over the years I’ve had exhibits about Charreadas, and produced a book on Charreadas. But what is truly a source of pride is that a portfolio of my Charreada work –including this photo– is in the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

The photograph in this Fotohistória was taken in 1987. Before the event began, as I walked around the arena, I saw this young lady high up on her horse in a warm-up corral; a confident, beautiful Adelita dressed in white, on her powerful steed, getting ready for her escaramuza in the ring.


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