The La Fiesta Patria Gaucha comes alive for several days each March in the Uruguayan town of Tacuarembo, 250 miles north of Montevideo. The grand festival celebrates rural traditions and the gaucho, or cowboy, lifestyle. The gauchos are based in the fertile grasslands of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia and Chile, and they come from all over South America to take part in this major cultural event. Festivalgoers enjoy music, dancing, parades, poetry and huge cuts of meat cooked on open-pit barbecues called parrillas. But the main attraction, as with major rodeos in the U.S. and Canada, is the rodeo itself. Gauchos ride untamed, wild horses — thousands of horses are brought in for the event — often being flung into the air like weightless astronauts. Only these astronauts come back to earth, with a thud!
Photo Gallery: Uruguay’s Wild Rodeo
The cowboy lifestyle in South America