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For a few weeks every year, the immaculately groomed Buenos Aires neighborhood of Palermo goes cowboy for La Rural Agricultural Fair. Now in its 131st year, the animal fair and celebration of Argentina’s traditional gaucho culture draws tens of thousands of people annually. If you’re planning to join the fun, here’s how to make the most of the experience.
It may be July, but it’s winter in Argentina and the venue, a national historical monument, is unheated (to be fair, it does cover a full 12 hectares). The facilities, which include a beautiful belle epoque-style stadium, were built in the 187os to accommodate agricultural events and today are used for everything from La Rural to high fashion festivities. So – bring a warm scarf, wear comfortable shoes, and come ready to experience the best of Argentina’s far-flung farmlands.
Breeders from all over the nation stream to Buenos Aires to show livestock at the fair, so prepare yourself for an abundance of animals (and, yes, animal smells). Argentine is known for its beef, so cattle are among the main stars – you’ll see Charolais, West Highland, Wagyu, and Blonde D’Aquitaine, among others. This is a legit livestock fair, complete with breeders and buyers busy talking trade and haggling over prices. You’ll also see lots of sheep, llamas, horses, and birds – don’t miss the giant roosters. There are numerous animal competitions and races. Check the schedule to ensure you don’t miss seeing your favorites strut their stuff.
Save the heavy meal at a parrilla for another day and come to La Rural with enough room in your tummy to try some provincial treats otherwise impossible to come by in Buenos Aires. You’ll be offered free samples of farm-fresh cheese and meats – including exotic items like venison ham – and various liquors. You may be inspired to pick out food for a picnic to enjoy in one of these beautiful places. Don’t forget to put in a showing at the wine show – for a set price you get access to a full range of Argentine wines (for a primer on those, click here).
La Rural is more than just a livestock and food event – it’s a full-blown cultural festival. There will be live folk music, craft-making, traditional dances, and other performances, adding more layers to an already culturally-rich event. That’s really why it’s worth going to La Rural; it showcases the nation’s incredible diversity.
“On the whole it’s a nice day out that really shows off how great the agricultural side of Argentina is,” Ben Jackson, an expat from England who has lived in Argentina for the past 15 years, told Culture Trip.
Argentina is the eighth-largest country in the world, taking up an area equivalent to nearly half the entire United States, and each one of its provinces has its own unique products, traditions, identity and history. Luckily for you, they all come together once a year in Buenos Aires – you won’t want to miss it!