Tales from Around the World – Fiesta de Saguaro, Tucson, Arizona

Every year, especially for the months of March and April, Tucson, Arizona has a series of events that celebrate the Mexican culture. Tucson is just one hour north of the Mexican border, so we are lucky enough to have the culture, color, and traditions here at home.

One of the better known events includes the International Mariachi Festival. I however, visited a small, relatively unknown event called the Fiesta de Saguaro. This event is held at annually at Saguaro National Park East and celebrates the saguaro cactus, which are native to our area, the Sonoran Desert.

The Fiesta de Saguaro is a free event, and includes mariachi, folklorico (both performed by Tucson High School and Ballet Folklorico Tapatio, Mariachi Tapatio), pinatas for children, along with food and demonstrations, such as pottery firing. My favorite–Mariachi and folklorico!

Mariachi music—played with joy, listened to with excitement and danced to with fervor. It is known for its celebration of the joys, tragedies, and passions within the Mexican Culture.

Mariachis typically dress in silver studded charro outfits with sombreros (wide brimmed hats). Instruments include at least three violins, two trumpets, one vihuela (a 5 string, high-pitched guitar), and one guitarron (a small-scaled acoustic bass), and of course their voices.

Mariachi is synonymous with folklorico and the folklorico are dances performed with mariachi music. The dresses are long, free flowing and vibrant in color. The men wear boots, hats and outfits similar to that of the mariachi. There are three dances for Mexican folkloric traditions–danza, mestizo, and baile regionales. Danza is an indigenous dance that is religious and spiritual in nature and setting.

Mestizo is also an indigenous dance–religious in nature that reflects the European influences in theme, movement and costuming. Baile regionales is the most common and is presented as baile folklorico in both the US and Mexico. Dances are social in nature and reflect the culture and the heritage of the people. The dances are very passionate and dramatic. Performers pound their heels into the ground in rapid, synchronous rhythms. The reverberations are felt throughout the floor and can literally split the wood!

Once you hear the trumpets blow, the festivities are about to begin–guaranteed to pound that beat into your soul and make you want to see more and more!

Audrey Kanekoa-Madrid

Tucson, AZ, USA
Copyright 2009

by Audrey Kanekoa-Madrid
Photos: © 2009 Audrey Kanekoa-Madrid. All rights reserved.

All written content (and most images) in these articles are copyrighted by the authors. Copyrighted material from Apogee Photo Mag should not be used elsewhere without seeking the authors permission.

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