From August 15 through August 25, the little Brazilian community of Barretos hosts one of the grandest events in the world. The Festa do Peão de Barretos features all of the excitement and thrills of PRCA rodeos in addition to having a carnival and nightly concerts. The festival coincides with the anniversary of Barretos’ founding and attracts more than one million spectators each year to the two-million square meter complex.
During the 1940s, cowboys from surrounding farms and ranches led herds of cattle to Barretos for slaughter. After making the trip, the cowboys gathered to demonstrate their skills amongst each other.
A group of cowboys calling themselves The Independents decided to make the competition an annual event and the Festa do Peão de Barretos Rodeo was born. Today, cowboys and cowgirls from across Brazil, Australia, Canada, Mexico and the United States come to watch or participate in the events. The Festa do Peão de Barretos Rodeo is considered the largest rodeo in Latin America. In fact, the spectacular Brazil event is only second in size compared to the competition held each year in Fort Worth, Texas.
The many competitive events include barrel racing, bulldogging, steer wrestling, team penning, and the ever-popular bull riding. The bull-riding event poses a particular challenge for the cowboys from Brazil, as they try to match or break the record held by Adriano Moraes.
In 1994, Moraes became one of four athletes in history to ride the full eight seconds on 10 consecutive bulls. Another arena within the complex is designed especially for the youth rodeo. Future cowboys and cowgirls compete in a variety of events, which include mutton bustin’.
The Festa do Peão de Barretos complex also features an abundance of shopping opportunities. Vendors offer a variety of traditional foods and beverages along with Western attire and culture-based souvenirs. Barretos is situated in the Lakes region of Brazil, which offers many different outdoor recreation options. There are hiking trails galore along with an outdoor gym and kiosks offering snacks and refreshing coconut water. Many different bars, restaurants and shops surround the community lagoon.
Local attractions also include the Historical Museum. Guided and self-guided tours of the facility are available. The array of rare exhibits enables visitors to learn more about the cultural changes that have occurred in Barretos and the region over the centuries.
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