11,000 attend to support scholarship fundraiser
BELEN — The 20th annual World’s Largest Matanza opened its gates early Saturday morning to welcome its hungry patrons.
The event, sponsored by the Hispano Chamber of Commerce of Valencia County, raises funds that will go towards scholarships for local high school and college students.
Bruce Gallegos and his team have been participating in the event for 19 years. His father is the one Gallegos credits for getting him involved with the event.
“My dad got a team together back in the day and we’ve been taking it over since he passed away in 2009,” Gallegos said. “This is in memory of Ray Gallegos.”
He noted the many people surrounding him who have donated their time, energy and resources to the team.
“From one little grill to all of this,” Gallegos said. “We’ve come a long way. Our team has grown since the years have gone on.”
His team boasts being the only one to shave and kill the pig. Holding on to that cultural tradition is important to Gallegos.
His favorite part of the process is getting to see people that he hasn’t seen in a long time.
“It’s like a reunion. Being here, surrounded by people who have volunteered so much of there time is my favorite part,” Gallegos said.
On the other side of the tents, 11,000 people, including spectators, teams, volunteers, sponsors and entertainers attended this year’s event — 1,000 more than last year.
Gerson Sanchez, a resident of Los Lunas, has attended the World’s Largest Matanza before, but back when it was held at the Sheriff’s Posse. This was the first time he and his wife had attended the event at Eagle Park.
He said this kind of event is important to celebrate in our community.
“We’re losing some of our Hispanic traditions. We need something like this to celebrate our culture,” Sanchez said.
He hopes the future generation will keep this tradition alive and pass it down to the next.
“I hope they learn how it is truly done and what goes on during a matanza. I hope the processes remain true to how they’ve been passed down to us,” Sanchez said.
The annual matanza attracts not only local Valencia County residents, but has also made a name for itself across the state.
Carlyle Bitsuy is an Albuquerque native but said he knew Belen was the place to be last Saturday because of the matanza.
“When you visit Los Lunas, what do you do? You visit the Luna Mansion. When you visit Belen, you go to the World’s Largest Matanza,” Bitsuy said.
This was the first time in nine years that he has attended the event. He and his friends come because of the environment and getting to experience different styles of food.
“I told a bunch of people to come today. Growing up, it was one of the things I used to love coming to. It all comes down to a family tradition,” Bitsuy said.
- Grand Champion: 1. Sen. Gregory Baca; 2. Randy’s Electric; 3. Los Lunas Schools
- Liver: 1. AIG Integrated Systems; 2. Sen. Gregory Baca; 3. Randy’s Electric
- Carne Adovada: 1. Sen. Gregory Baca; 2. Randy’s Electric; 3. Los Bomberos (RGEFD)
- Specialty Pork: 1. Randy’s Electric; 2. Ben Ray Lujan for U.S. Senate; 3. Sen. Gregory Baca
- Chicharrones: 1. Los Lunas Schools; 2. Sen. Gregory Baca; 3. Ben Ray Lujan for U.S. Senate
- Iron Pig: 1. Los Lunas Schools; 2. AC Disposal Services; 3. Sen. Gregory Baca
- People’s Choice Award: All About Paint/Rio Grande Matanzaeros
Public food competitions
- Bischochitos: 1. Cathy Muñoz; 2. Ruby Landovazo; 3. Tanya Garcia
- Natillas: 1. Paula Sedillo; 2. Stephanie Cook; 3. April Vasquez
- Pastelitos: 1. Sha Luna Hicks; 2. Elaine Montoya; 3. April Vasquez
- Red chile: 1. Elaine Montoya; 2. Chris Ortiz; 3. LoriAnn Martinez
- Salsa: 1. Gregg Trujillo; 2. Dustin Jojola; 3. Margie Aragon
- Tortillas: 1. TeeCee Centeno; 2. Bill Trodden; 3. Daryl Landovazo