Feria Nacional de San Marcos | Mexico | Living in Mexico

Feria Nacional de San Marcos

The biggest fair in all of Mexico is held every year during May in Aguascalientes. Clint and I headed over there to check it out. Called Feria Nacional de San Marcos, people attend from all over Mexico and many visit from other Latin American countries as well. It's a deeply traditional event; the 2008 fair was the 180th.

Clint and I envisioned a large mercado with traditionally dressed indigenous people—a showcase of Mexico's best. We'd heard it had a spicy side, too: bullfights, cockfights, gambling—an aspect of Mexico I'd not seen. We were thinking quaint, rustic, but big. We were wrong.

Feria Nacional de San Marcos is a big deal, similar in many ways to the California State Fair. While the fair indeed features many cultural events, like the California event it's strong on bread and circuses. Daily agendas feature long lists of entertainers. Most visitors come to play at this junior grade Las Vegas. I suspect a minority actually are interested in culture.

Unfortunately we'd failed to do our homework, investing a long drive to visit something totally unlike what we had imagined. Arriving in Aguascalientes around 10 AM, Clint paid $150 pesos to park, and we walked out into the area where the fair was held. Oops. It was closed! Wouldn't open until that evening. The fair is a nighttime affair. A quick check of the website would have saved us a lot of time and effort.

So what we got to see was a cleaning crew hosing the place down after last night's festivities. Don't want to think about that too much.


We got to see two policemen trying to subdue a leftover drunk at the request of a restaurant manager.


And we had a quick look at an intriguing boite. I've been trying to imagine to whom this place would appeal.


Due to poor planning, we were unable to stay until evening. We returned to San Miguel, singularly unimpressed with Aguascalientes. This is unfair, however. Belated research shows that Aguascalientes is a vibrant town, developing real economic muscle, its heart a storehouse of colonial architecture of some note.

I'll be back to explore the city properly. But I think I'll skip the fair, for the same reason I have avoided the California State Fair. Elvis impersonators are just not my thing.