Cows wearing sandals at the Handsome Bull Festival

This post is also available in: Spanish

By Marijulia Pujol Lloyd

Handsome bulls are used to pull the carts.

Handsome bulls are used to pull the carts.

Panama is a place where folklore and traditions are kept alive in the many festivals that are celebrated throughout the country around the year. One of the most original is the Torito Guapo (Handsome Bull) Festival, which celebrates the heritage of the region’s cattle. It takes place in Antón, Coclé province, from Thursday, October 17 to Monday October, 21.

Visitors to this festival, located only two hours away from the capital city, will be delighted by more than a hundred troupes of dancers from all over the country, cows wearing “cutarras” (peasants’ sandals), the sound of to the “almirez”, a musical instrument found only in the Antón area and the contagious beat of the “tamborito.” All will enjoy traditional food and drink such as “sancocho de gallina” (chicken soup) and “chicha de maíz” (corn juice).

Cows wearing sandals

The “Vaca encutarrada” (cows wearing sandals) re-enactment is one of the highlights of the Torito Guapo Festival and goes back to the colonial times where the cattle thieves put sandals on the cattle so they could steal them without the footprints giving the game away.

The festival, which is especially aimed at the youngsters of the area to continue the tradition of their ancestors and involves numerous contests, such as dancing, bull fights and horse riding is enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. The activities carried out within the five days of celebration are varied from competitions like “piladas de arroz” (removing of the husk from the grain), “palo encebao” (greasy pole) and “catch the piglet.”

This year the queen of the Torito Guapo, now in its 44th edition, is Allison Salazar, who is going to be crowned on Thursday, October 17. Children are an integral part of the festivities and take part in music and dance contests. The events take place in the town’s park.

About the creator

The Torito Guapo festival was created in 1964 by Professor Armando del Rosario De León. It aimed to keep alive traditions brought by the Spaniards during the colonial period. The festival takes its name from the main character of the celebration – a man dressed in a bull-like costume decorated with mirrors and multicolored ribbons, who chases passers-by down the streets.

Near the beach

Antón is close to the Pacific beaches and hotel resorts can be found in Santa Clara and Rio Hato. The festival is a great way to experience Panamanians traditions and at the same time enjoy proximity to the ocean.

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