Days of the Vaqueros in Old Town San Diego!

Two vaqueros chat during an event in Old Town San Diego that reenacts aspects of Californio history.
Two vaqueros chat during an event in Old Town San Diego that reenacts fascinating Californio history.

I enjoyed the Trades That Shaped the West event in Old Town San Diego last Saturday so much, I decided to return today to experience another Stagecoach Days event: Days of the Vaqueros!

Days of the Vaqueros invited curious visitors to experience what life was like when San Diego was a part of Mexico. The emphasis was on the vaqueros–the first true cowboys. During the era of the Californios, wealthy ranch owners employed vaqueros to manage their stock.

For a couple of decades–from the early 1820s to the mid-1840s–cattle hides were the primary export of Alta California. Merchant ships from the East Coast (and other places about the Pacific Ocean) would trade the plentiful hides for finished goods that were in high demand in early, geographically isolated, sparsely populated towns like San Diego.

Someone reads Days of the Vaqueros sign on the Robinson Rose House in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
Someone checks out Days of the Vaqueros activities. The banner hangs on the Robinson Rose House in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
Taking place during Old Town's summer Stagecoach Days, today's event celebrated life in San Diego when the small town and surrounding area was part of Mexico.
Taking place during Old Town’s summer weekend Stagecoach Days, today’s event celebrated life in San Diego when the small town and Alta California were part of Mexico.
Ladies in period dresses at the Days of the Vaqueros event in Old Town San Diego.
Ladies pass by in period dresses. One of many cool sights at the Days of the Vaqueros event in Old Town San Diego.
Tables contained information about life during the era of huge Mexican land grant cattle ranches worked by vaqueros. Vaqueros, the first cowboys, were mostly indigenous people employed to manage cattle by the wealthy land owners.
Tables contained information about life during the era of huge Mexican land grant ranches worked by vaqueros. Vaqueros, the first true cowboys, were mostly indigenous people employed to manage cattle by the wealthy land owners.
A vaquero shows a visitor to Old Town how to properly handle a rope.
A vaquero shows a visitor to Old Town how to properly handle a rope.
The visitor successfully lassoes his cow--the rear end, that is--first try!
The visitor successfully lassoes his cow–the rear end, that is–first try!
A gentleman who used to work for Buck Knives makes unique knife handles with elk antlers. He has developed his own technique, which takes great skill and precision.
A gentleman who used to work for Buck Knives makes unique knife handles out of elk antlers. He has developed his own technique, which takes great skill and precision.
A hat maker shows how beaver felt material was steamed then pushed over a hat-form block.
A hat maker shows how beaver felt material was steamed then pushed over a hat-form block.
What's cooking on the campfire? Some tasty pozole, I was told!
What’s cooking on the campfire? Some tasty pozole, I was told!
Pozole is a traditional Mexican soup or stew, made from hominy, meat and various vegetable seasonings.
Pozole is a traditional Mexican soup or stew, made from hominy, meat and various vegetable seasonings.
Preparing eggs for the cascarón. Near the end of a fiesta Californios flirted by cracking eggs filled with scented water or confetti over the startled head of someone they liked.
Decorating eggshell cascarones. Near the end of a fiesta, Californios flirted by cracking eggs filled with scented water or confetti over the startled head of someone they liked.
A group called Los Californios played authentic early California music--tunes that were preserved over a century ago on wax cylinder sound recordings made by Charles Lummis.
A group called Los Californios played authentic early California music–tunes that were preserved over a century ago on wax cylinder sound recordings made by Charles Lummis.
A couple dances to the happy, gentle music.
A couple dances to the happy, gentle music.
Publications by a project called San Diego Friends of Old Time Music. Author Vykki Mende Gray is helping to preserve the musical history of California.
Publications by a nonprofit project called San Diego Friends of Old Time Music. Author Vykki Mende Gray is helping to preserve the musical history of California.
A display of braided ropes and cut rawhide, once commonly used by vaqueros as they worked on the large cattle ranches around San Diego.
A display of braided ropes and rawhide, once commonly used by vaqueros as they worked on the large cattle ranches around San Diego.
On this table I see more ropes, a canteen, iron brands and boot spurs.
On this table I see more ropes, a canteen, iron brands and boot spurs.
A gentleman who teaches students visiting Old Town about history holds up an illustration of bear-baiting, which early Californians found entertaining.
A gentleman who teaches school students visiting Old Town about history holds up an illustration of bear-baiting, which early Californians found entertaining.
These guys were making adobe bricks. I learned earth and water are mixed, and straw or manure are often added for strength and cohesion.
These guys were making adobe bricks. I learned earth and water are mixed, and straw or manure are often added for strength and cohesion.
These authentic adobe bricks take weeks or months to properly dry. When hard, they'll possibly be used in new construction or restored exhibits at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
Authentic adobe bricks take weeks or months to properly dry. When hard, these bricks will possibly be used in new construction or to restore existing exhibits inside Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
Traditional dancing in the courtyard of Casa de Estudillo of Los Camotes (which translates the sweet potatoes), a tune from Mexican and Spanish California.
Traditional dancing in the courtyard of Casa de Estudillo of Los Camotes (which translates the sweet potatoes), a tune from old Mexican and Spanish California.

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Published by

Richard Schulte

Downtown San Diego has been my home for many years. My online activities reflect my love for writing, blogging, walking and photography.

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