Dating back as far as the 16th century, jaripeo is a type of rodeo popular throughout Central America. Often held as part of ferias patronales, festivals in honour of a town’s local saint, these fiestas bravas are the social highlight of many small town communities.
In Loma Larga in the South Eastern department of La Union, El Salvador, the annual feria patronal is held in April.
Before the show the atmosphere among the riders is cheerful. Most of them know each other well.
The event attracts all generations and the stands are always packed.
Unlike US rodeos, where riders have to stay on the bull for 8 seconds, the bull is ridden until it stops bucking.
Tensions start to rise as participants concentrate for the event.
Riders and rodeo clowns are being introduced to the crowd.
As is the reina, a local teenage girl crowned pageant style and riding in a parade in honour of the town Saint.
The event would not be complete without a band.
As night falls, the crowds wait for the big bulls.
Once the rider is off the bull the payasos, rodeo clowns, take over.
“Nobody retires from rodeo. Rodeo retires you.” – Leon Coffee
For more on El Salvador I recommend 2012 Arnold Newman Prize Recipient Steven Laxton’s series Circo El Salvador.