Patronal Festivities and the Hidden Rodeo of El Sauce
On a normal day, El Sauce is quiet. Familiar faces wander the streets and nights are calm. However, this changes in January. The Patronal Festivities are celebrated every January in honor of the patron saint of El Sauce, the Lord of Miracles or the Black Christ. Thousands of people from different departments and cities come here to celebrate and enjoy the festivities. The patron saint of El Sauce, El Senor de los Milagros, finds its origins in Guatemala. During a pilgrimage with the visage of the Black Christ, the image found a new home in El Sauce. The city owes its name to the same figure. Many people take part in long walks from various cities to visit El Senor de los Milagros during the month of January. Some walk from as far as Guatamala, others walk 30km from nearby cities such as Esteli. Pilgrims flood the streets in El Sauce to pay respects to The Lord of Miracles in the famous Catholic Church in El Sauce.
Some travelers come with carts and oxen, often from different parts of the country, come to pay homage to the Black Christ. In honor of El Senor de los Milagros the church holds different activities, such as several masses throughout the week. It is common to see the main streets full of what are called “chinamos” in the last 2 weeks of the month. Chinamos are small stalls selling handcrafted goods, clothing, and more. The main streets in El Sauce become a market, passable only by foot. The Plaza becomes filled with mechanical rides and games for children. There is also a rodeo nearby the Plaza.
Not many people know of the rodeo in El Sauce. Outside of January, it is a well-kept secret until the
fiesta begin. The arena is hidden in plain sight across from the Plaza, which is frequented by many. Once someone points you in the right direction, you see the tin panels of the arena. Before coming to El Sauce, I had never been to a rodeo, so I did not know what to expect. Everyone wore plaid shirts and cowboy hats. The riders wore helmets and chaps. The rodeo itself had the same pace as a baseball game. There were a few moments of excitement (when the bull was out) and then a lull where you could chat with your friends and neighbors. There were riders and spectators from all over Nicaragua, Esteli, Chinandega, Leon, Rivas. The event itself is exciting, and when it’s over you leave into streets flooded with the smell of good food and the sounds of children laughing on the rides in the Plaza.
El Sauce comes alive at all hours of the day during January. Fiestas, food, family, and fun! Whether it be the chinamos, the amusement park rides in the Plaza, family visits, or the hidden rodeo, there is always something to do in January in El Sauce, just remember to bring your cowboy hat!