Matanza time again

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This Saturday is the 12th annual Valencia County Hispano Chamber of Commerce’s Matanza. We can’t wait.
While a little late this year, organizers are saying it’s probably going to be the best and biggest of them all. There will be 20 teams competing for bragging rights and thousands of people far and wide are expected to descend on the Sheriff’s Posse grounds for the best food in the state.
For more than a decade, the annual matanza, which raises money for scholarships for local students, has been a much anticipated event. People from all walks of life look forward to the matanza for many different reasons: for all the free, delicious food, the exhilarating music by local and statewide entertainers, the tortilla, biscochito and red chile contests, and the chance to get together with old friends and make new ones.
But what peoplea enjoy most is celebrating the centuries-old tradition. For hundreds of years, families and neighbors have gathered together to hold matanzas in their backyards. They would cook all day while catching up on each other’s lives. They used and shared every part of the pig in order to have food for the rest of the winter.
Today, matanzas are held for basically the same reasons, as well to celebrate our culture. Matanzas, and many other events we continue to  celebrate, are, and always will be, part of our identity.
When the matanza was initially canceled due to threats by the United States Department of Agriculture, the chamber and many others who look forward to the annual event each year were devastated. Many wrote letters, made phone calls and cried out for a change of heart. Thankfully, the USDA rescinded its decision and gave the matanza the green light to go on as scheduled.
But because the decision came late, the chamber postponed the matanza for one month. Thankfully, Casper Baca, of Baca Rough Stock Rodeo, made the decision to interrupt his schedule to allow the matanza to be held on the last weekend of February.
There are a lot of people to commend for this year’s matanza — from the chamber, the citizens and the legislators who helped fight for the event to the Bacas for their generous act of community.
We encourage everyone to go out to the matanza this Saturday to eat, to mingle and to carry on our traditions. The theme of this year’s matanza is “Our tradition will die when pigs fly!” We truly hope so!