Morelia's annual Festival del Torito de Petate (literally, festival of the little bull made of woven reeds) ushers in Carnaval here in the city. These little bulls are hardly little, and are hardly made of woven reeds. Some measure as high as five meters (more than 15 feet) and weigh in at more than 110 kilos (nearly 250 pounds). Built today by group members from Morelia's working-class neighborhoods, the danza del torito de petate stems from dances that date back as far as 1586, shortly after the Spanish conquest of the New World.
This intricate guacamaya (macaw) measures at least five meters tall. A strong young man carries the heavy torito on his shoulders and performs a several-minute-long dance. Cheering crowds and a tumultuous local band urge him and his costumed companions to ever faster spins.
Children absolutely love the Festival del Torito de Petate. The little boy on the left is wearing a horse costume held up by suspenders. He's whipping his steed in more and more frenzied circles. The taller boy in the center has a bull costume mounted on his shoulders; Mexico Cooks! could only capture the bull's umm...tail...as the boy whirled to the music.
Sixty neighborhoods participated in the 2009 edition of Morelia's Festival del Torito de Petate. Mexico Cooks! watched the line of elaborately colorful creatures as it formed alongside Plaza Valladolid; the giant toritos were accompanied by crowds of whoop-it-up well-wishers, cheerleaders, and frenetic dancers.
Every age celebrates Morelia's Carnaval. The toy this elderly woman is holding is also a torito de petate. Strolling vendors set up all over Plaza Valladolid hawk these little toritos to the crowd of thousands.
Here's information about the 2008 Festival del Torito de Petate, along with a lot more pictures. Plan to be here in Morelia during Carnaval next year! We'll expect you on the Saturday before Ash Wednesday for this exciting party.
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