Buenos Aires Travel Planet

Buenos Aires visitor’s guide

Feria de Mataderos


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The best place to experience the wealth of Argentina’s cultural roots as they relate to life beyond Buenos Aires without ever leaving the city limits is to visit the Feria de Mataderos (Mataderos Fair). The fair features artisan and traditional food stands, gaucho horse-back riding competitions, folk music and dance performances, workshops, and more. Here the city meets the country every Sunday, April through December from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and admission is free. In the summer months it is replaced by a carnival which takes place on Saturdays.

The fair takes place in the blue-collar stockyard neighborhood of Mataderos. It is held in the Mercado Nacional de Hacienda (national livestock market); its building dates back to 1890 and it is now considered a historic monument. The Museo Criollo de los Corrales, a museum which highlights the traditional gaucho lifestyle, lies within the Recova del Mercado.

The Feria de Mataderos varies each Sunday, according to who is performing on its stage and what regional festival is being celebrated. However, there are five elements which are always present: traditional artisan crafts, artistic performances, the display of gaucho skills, public dancing and regional foods.

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The fair inaugurated in 1986 with forty artisan stands; that number has now mushroomed to 1,000 artisan stands displaying and selling items such as traditional woolen ponchos, pottery, leather goods, and gaucho silverware. There are also indigenous artisans from different tribes such as the Toba, Colla and Mapuche. Many provinces and municipalities have stands featuring local production of goods such as jams, canned fruits, and wines. Several public institutions and associations also have stands.

The stage at the Feria de Mataderos is constantly occupied, adding a festive note to the fair. Every Sunday, the stage features ten different folk music or dance groups. Some of the performers are famous, others are new or recent talent, and some are unknowns who will be famous in the future.

The gaucho horse-riding competition, the Argentine version of a rodeo, usually starts around two in the afternoon. Gauchos, in full traditional attire, display the many skills they use in the countryside.

As you realized in this Buenos Aires travel guide, the Feria de Mataderos is not just an artisan fair, but a popular fiesta and no party is complete without dancing. Therefore, there is always a dance in which the public can partake. Food is the other essential ingredient in any festivity. Food stands sell regional foods such as tortas fritas, empanadas, and sausages and meat barbecued over a chulengo - halved oil drum turned barbecue grill.

Aside from these permanent fixtures, the fair also usually offers several other activities such as workshops, talks, expositions, videos, competitions, traditional games, and book signings. The fair features a library and a youth film club. Its eighteen workshop offerings cover topics such as folklore; indigenous knitting from both the northern and southern regions of the country; dancing; painting; puppetry; basket weaving; traditional instruments such as the sikus, guitar and charango; and the indigenous Quechua and Mapuche languages.

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The Feria de Mataderos has numerous special celebrations throughout the year, including Pachamama (Mother Earth); Día Internacional del Folklore (International Day of Folklore); Carnaval Salteño; Day of the Tradition; national patriotic holidays, 25 de mayo and 9 de julio; and even neighboring countries’ holidays such as Brazilian Independence and the Carnaval de NOA y Bolivia.

The fair receives over 15,000 visitors each of the 60 times a year (including holidays) that it opens. Each week 100 people work on the production and organization of the fair to make it a unique and enjoyable experience for all.

The Feria de Mataderos is located at Avenida Lisandro de la Torre and Avenida de los Corrales. It can be reached by taking bus lines: 36, 55, 92, 63, 80, 92, 97, 103, 117, 126, 141, 155, 180, 185.

Visit the official Feria de Mataderos website for an up to date schedule of events and instructions on how to get there: www.feriademataderos.com.ar

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