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SAN ANTONIO CHARRO ASSOCIATION

SAN ANTONIO CHARRO ASSOCIATION. The San Antonio Charro Association was founded in 1947 with the intent to pass on the culture of charrería, considered by some to be the national sport of Mexico, to future generations. With origins rooted in the sixteenth-century Spanish conquistadores, the charros (“gentlemen horsemen”) played integral roles in the Mexican hacienda celebrations of the round-ups, and such events have been credited as forerunners to the American rodeo. When the Mexican Revolution resulted in the division of many of the large haciendas in Mexico, the charros, fearing the loss of their tradition, sought to preserve it by founding the Asociación Nacional de Charros in 1921. The Federación Nacional de Charros emerged out of this organization in 1933 and granted a license for a San Antonio, Texas, chapter in 1947, which made it the first chapter in the United States.

The San Antonio Charro Association, located at 6126 Padre Drive in San Antonio, reflects its mission to preserve the charrería with its stated goals: “Upholding the authenticity and pageantry of Charrería; Celebrating its Tradition, Art, Culture, and History; Honoring its enduring customs of attire, culture, horsemanship and commitment to Family.” The association is licensed by the federation, a requirement to take part in sanctioned charreada competitions, and all competitors are certified as charros. The San Antonio Charro Association requires an application for membership, payment of annual dues, and encourages members to participate in various committees within the organization. Unaffiliated charro associations exist in Austin, El Paso, Houston, Brownsville, Dallas, and within Bexar County. These organizations hold similar charreada events to promote the sport of charrería and Mexican heritage. One popular charreada event is Charro Days in Brownsville, Texas, held each February. 

The San Antonio Charro Association initially leased land in order to practice riding skills. In 1959 the organization purchased ten acres adjacent to Mission County Park on San Antonio’s south side. Through the years, members made improvements and constructed stands on this ranch to provide a setting for their charreadas. Charreada events follow very specific rituals regarding the opening of competition and the presentation of teams and other participants. The competitions include events to showcase the horses’ agility (cala), team roping, bull and bronco riding, and opportunities for riders to show their skill with a lasso (piales and manganas). 

The San Antonio Charro Association also selects its own charreada royalty each year and holds a formal coronation and gala each February. The San Antonio chapter became a prominent Fiesta participant in 1972 in an effort to encourage the inclusion of multiple ethnic groups in the city’s largest celebration of cultural heritage. Each year the association provides its own Fiesta queen who also leads a female riding team (escaramuzas).

The San Antonio Charro Association remains active year-round. Major events are held during Fiesta and in the summer months, and charreadas are open to the public throughout the year and also available for private functions. 

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Asociacion de Charros San Antonio (http://www.sacharros.org/san-antonio-charros-.html), accessed May 5, 2015. Charros de Bejar (http://www.sacharro.com/index2.php), accessed May 5, 2015. Estatutos, Federación Mexicana de Charrería, A.C. (http://www.fmcharreria.com/federacion/estatutos), accessed May 5, 2015. Laura Hernández-Ehrisman, Inventing the Fiesta City: Heritage and Carnival in San Antonio (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2008). 

Mary Elise Grassmuck

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Mary Elise Grassmuck, "San Antonio Charro Association," accessed November 22, 2017, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/xns03.

Uploaded on August 18, 2016. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.