For the past 20 years, I’ve probably attended at least 17 matanzas sponsored by the Hispano Chamber of Valencia County held on the last Saturday of January.
The “World’s Largest Matanza,” has consistently raised funds to give hundreds of scholarships to local students. While our local children benefit from the generosity of the community, we, in turn, benefit from the annual event.
This year was a little different for me. If I’m not working to cover the event — taking pictures and interviewing team members and visitors — I’m there just to enjoy the food, the entertainment and being able to visit with people.
This year, I was honored to be asked to be a judge. I had the choice of several categories, but when I saw I could judge chicharrones, I didn’t hesitate to volunteer.
Mind you, I’m not a huge meat eater, but chicharrones are a lot different than a huge slab of meat. They’re bite sized, they’re nice and salty and if they’re right, they have just the right amount of crunch.
When I showed up to the judge’s tent on Saturday, I could barely contain my excitement. I’ve eaten my fair share of chicharrones in my lifetime, but this was going to be different.
I was tasked to judge these bits of delicacies in three different ways — presentation, taste and texture. I took my job seriously and judged each entry with earnest intent.
Yes, there were some that were better than others, but each and every entry was delicious in their own way. I could tell the teams put a lot of effort into how they made their chicharrones and how they presented their dishes.
Some were donned with colorful vegetables, others with sweet fruit, some had bell peppers filled with red chile and one even decorated their entry with biscochitos. They were amazing.
But what was even more stunning was the crowds that day. In all the years I’ve attended this annual event, I think this may have been the most well attended in the past two decades.
The weather was perfect, the food was delicious, the music was wonderful and the amount friendly faces was oh so welcoming.
Speaking on behalf of Valencia County, we’re all very grateful and appreciative for the Hispano Chamber of Valencia County’s board of directors for sponsoring this annual event, for working so hard for such a good cause and for making sure our traditions continue.
There’s many reasons why the “World’s Largest Matanza” has consistently been voted the Best Event in Valencia County in the Valencia County News-Bulletin’s Best of Valencia County contest.
Clara Garcia is the editor and publisher of the Valencia County News-Bulletin.
She is a native of the city of Belen, beginning her journalism career at the News-Bulletin in 1998 as the crime and courts reporter. During her time at the paper, Clara has won numerous awards for her writing, photography and typography and design both from the National Newspaper Association and the New Mexico Press Association.