Click on the links for Part 1 (Friday) and Part 2 (Saturday).
Sunday was the last day of the festival, and the main mass was going to be held at the baseball stadium. The events would start with a cabalgata (a procession of rancheros and others on their horses).
We had to get some music equipment to the stadium before things got crazy, so we drove to the church at 10:30 to pick up a couple of amps and some microphone cables. As we drove in, Padre and Martin (the seminarian) were leaving for the perigrinacion with the caballeros (horsemen). We drove to the stadium and dropped off the equipment as they were beginning to set up the platform.
Then we walked to the center of town in hopes of meeting the cabalgata and walking with them back to the stadium. After waiting around for quite awhile the cabalagata finally arrived, with Padre, Martin, and the altar servers in front along with a band playing ranchero music and the queen and princesses of the festival.
As an aside, this was the first year that the local government got involved in the festival by including non-church activities like crowning a queen and her court, having a sponsored bike ride, etc. Those without any awareness of the centrality of the church in our community's social fabric (read: tourists and most of the gringos here) could easily miss the reason for the festival if it weren't for Padre making sure that everything we as a church did was out "in the public square", tied in to everything else that was happening. He's like Pope Francis - he wants to take the church out to the people!
When we got to the stadium the platform for the mass was ready and the music team was setting up below.
The caballeros processed in front of the platform and Padre blessed them by sprinkling them with holy water as they went past.
Then they all gathered in front of the platform for the duration of the mass. By that time it had started to rain - not a heavy rain, but a steady one, which is why the caballeros are wearing hats during the mass. It continued to rain through the readings, but then stopped and the rest of the mass went smoothly.
The rector of the seminary in La Paz concelebrated the mass with Padre, and several seminarians were the lectors. Our small town currently has two young men in seminary (they both entered last year), with another considering it (the one in the photo below). The offering for this mass was given to the seminary, and in addition there is a group in town that collects money every month for seminary support. We're very serious about preparing the next generation of priests!
Once the mass was over, the caballeros milled about on their horses and I was able to get a picture of one on his mule with a traditional ranchero saddle, much different from the western saddles in the US. The chaps are built into the saddle, which makes a lot of sense when riding through cactus, as you can imagine. Unfortunately, there are very few rancheros who still use these saddles - the "standard" western saddles seem to have gotten the upper hand around here.
It wasn't quite 2:00 and the next event was going to be some competitions involving lard (greased poles, etc.) but we didn't want to wait an hour for them to start. Instead, we went to our favorite Mexican restaurant owned by one of the brothers of a family in the church, and after that went home for a nap.
As a post script, the rain held off until early the next morning (today). It has been raining HARD all day today (tropical storm Octave), although when we looked at the satellite images on the web it didn't look like much. On the ground, however, we have received much more rain from this storm than we did from hurricane Juliette in September. We're glad for the rain, but gracias a Dios the main part of the storm didn't hit until after the festival was over.