What are “Fiestas Patronales”?

FIESTAS PATRONALES DE PUERTO RICO

(Patron Saint Festivals in Puerto Rico)

Las Fiestas Patronales (Patron Saint Festivals) in Puerto Rico are tied to the founding of municipalities and the influential role played by the Catholic Church at the time. These festivities began as a religious celebration, but eventually, secular and folkloric characteristics were incorporated into the festivities. Today, they are famous for the carnaval-like fair attractions, traditional foods, amusement rides, music and entertainment, and local customs.

For the most part, the festival is held around the Main Plaza. The amusement rides (las machinas) include a Merry-Go-Round (los caballitos), a ferris wheel (la estrella), flying chairs (las sillas voladoras), bumper cars (los carritos locos), and a unique Roller-Coaster called el gusano, among others.

Food vendors are found in every corner selling snow cones (piraguas or raspao), fruit flavored ice cream served in a small paper cup, cotton candy (algodón), tropical candy like marrayo and gofio, beef turnovers, pork cracklings (chicharrón volao), and more.

Let’s not forget Las Picas (miniature horse racing machines) where only the adults were permitted to place bets. The wooden horses were painted in bright colors with each sporting a different number. They ran in its own track and cranked manually by with the manivela or handle.

Las Fiestas Patronales continue to be an essential part of the Puerto Rican tradition and culture. That is why it was selected to be the theme for the 14th Festival de Puerto Rico in San Antonio to be celebrated at the San Antonio Shrine Auditorium, 2015 from noon until 7:00pm.