Valencia County NM Matanza spokesman Edward Calabaza said. “The Matanza is typically a whole hog pig that is brought to the site and is slaughtered there. It is cooked cleaned there on site.”
The Hispano Chamber of Commerce holds the event to raise scholarship money, and that’s where the problem lies for the USDA.
“If we didn’t charge the $10 donation to come through the gate, they wouldn’t have a problem with it,” Calabaza said. He said 45 hogs are slaughtered for the event, which always has state health inspectors on site.
“We have served probably 300,000 meals and we’ve never had a report of illness,” Calabaza said.
The USDA said all it takes is one problem for the event to be harmful.
In times long past, vaqueros tended the stock on the open range until it was time to sell, brand, or butcher the animals. Anyone of these events required a rounding up of the animals – “al rodear.” This was called a rodeo.
The killing (butchering) of an animal which frequently accompanied a rodeo was called a “matanza.” The first recorded references to a “rodeo” in what is now the United States are made in old New Mexico chronicles.
As matanza researcher Cynthia Martin explains “A traditional Matanza is a family and community-gathering event, with friends and neighbors helping in the labor-intensive job of processing a large pig, goat or sheep”.
“Taking at least an entire day, the process goes from the slaughtering the animal and butchering the meat to cooking the various meat products and preparing what is left for distribution and storage. Of course all those helpers also need to be fed, so the women in the family plan and prepare large amounts of food for the event.” Historically the celebration had been done in the winter to prevent spoilage, and so today the tradition is carried on in winter.