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Cholula Town Fair Mixes Old and New Traditions

A vendor sells freshly baked goods at the Feria de San Pedro Cholula (2010)It all started hundreds, quite possibly thousands, of years ago in Cholula, as a means to pay homage to the serpent god Quetzalcoatl. Then Spanish settlers arrived—and turned the Cholullans’ sacred day into a virgin’s feast day (Sept. 8), in an attempt to convert them to Christianity. Fast-forward a few hundred years, and the ancient and colonial beliefs have fused into a single, glorious celebration.

For the past six decades, San Pedro Cholula has commemorated the occasion with a nearly three-week annual fair that fêtes the region’s trade and cultural heritage, from pre-Hispanic practices to modern-day customs. This year, the 62nd Feria de Cholula kicks off Aug. 30, with a massive inaugural dance and the crowning of a festival queen in the town’s main square. Other special events include everything from a traditional trueque—at which some 3,000 vendors are expected to trade goods—on Sept. 8 to a re-enactment of Hidalgo’s cry for independence on Sept. 15. Expect to find live entertainment, street food, sales of artisanal wares, and carnival rides, too.

“Come with your family to enjoy the most colorful and folkloric traditions of San Pedro Cholula. Music, dance, and gastronomy envelope the city for a party that’s full of magic and happiness,” officials say. “It’s an experience you’ll never forget.”

All performances and ceremonies at the Feria de Cholula are free and open to the public.

Officials expect 100,000 visitors between Aug. 30 and Sept. 16. New this year: A 4,000-square-meter dome has been erected in the main square to shelter fair attendees and its 500 vendors and artisans from the elements, rain or shine. In addition, in response to the protests of animal activists, no bullfights or cockfights will be held.

To coincide with the fair, the tunnels that allow people to pass through the Great Pyramid are scheduled to reopen after nearly three years of restoration work; admission will remain free for the duration of the festival.

Schedule of Events

Here’s an overview of the fair’s various events and performances, all of which are free and open to the public.

August 30
Inaugural Dance with performances by Aarón y su Grupo Ilusión, Colmillo Norteño, Sexy Cumbia, and Junior Klan, among others, Plaza de la Concordia (main square), 3 p.m.

August 31
Lantern Procession, Convento de San Gabriel, 2 Norte #4, Colonia Centro, 10 p.m

September 1
La Sonora Dinamita and comedian Ottmar de la Rosa, Teatro de la Ciudad, Recinto Ferial Xelhua, 14 Poniente at 6 Sur (the plaza that’s on the exit side of the pyramid), 6 p.m.

September 2
La Perla Colombiana and Banda MB, Teatro de la Ciudad, Recinto Ferial Xelhua, 14 Poniente at 6 Sur (the plaza that’s on the exit side of the pyramid), 6 p.m.

September 8
Trueque, Plaza de la Concordia (main square), Calle Morelos at Calle Miguel Aleman, starting at 8 a.m.
Quema de Panzón, Iglesia de los Remedios, atop the Great Pyramid, 14 Poniente at 6 Sur, 1 p.m.
Los Terricolas and comedian Jhonatan Casanova, Teatro de la Ciudad, Recinto Ferial Xelhua, 14 Poniente at 6 Sur (the plaza that’s on the exit side of the pyramid), 6 p.m.

September 9
Orquesta la Típica (de Maelo Ruiz) and Orquesta Salsabor, Teatro de la Ciudad, Recinto Ferial Xelhua, 14 Poniente at 6 Sur (the plaza that’s on the exit side of the pyramid), 5:30 p.m.

September 15
Cry of Independence (“El Grito”), Plaza de la Concordia (main square), Calle Morelos at Calle Miguel Aleman, starting at 8 p.m.

September 16
Independence Day Parade, downtown San Pedro Cholula, Calle Morelos at Calle Miguel Aleman, starting at 10 a.m.
Yaguarú and Banda los Angeles, Teatro de la Ciudad, Recinto Ferial Xelhua, 14 Poniente at 6 Sur (the plaza that’s on the exit side of the pyramid), 6 p.m.

Many taxis and intercity buses offer regular service between Puebla and Cholula, as does the Tranvía. It’s about a 30-minute ride, depending on traffic. After you arrive, you may find this tourist map helpful.

—Rebecca Smith Hurd

Additional sources: PueblaNoticias.com.mx, EstrellaDeBelem.com.mx

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