Competitions take place every day and kick off bright and early at 9.30 in the morning, just 30 minutes after the doors open. With livestock, equine, bovine and avian breeds all given a chance to shine, there are plenty of opportunities to check out your favourite farm animal having a moment in the limelight.
In fact, my favourite farm animal is the cow, an odd obsession developed from reading Argentina’s economy news each day and finding statistics such as how many heads were taken to Liniers Market for auction earlier that morning. After all, one of Argentina’s unique selling points that lures in tourists are the fabulous juicy steaks, which are cut differently to the beef in their own country. Bigger. Simply better. Who wouldn’t want to develop an obsession with one of Argentina’s finest exports?
Although this particular category didn’t fill the stands to capacity, it certainly attracted cow fans keen to cheer on their favourite farms, herds and animals. And as that particular round drew to a close, some spectators dawdling to take advantage of the hot air being piped through the roof, I headed off to one of the many pavilions filled with feathered and furry superstars.
It is all extremely well-organized to the uneducated eye, with enormous signs hanging down in this particular vast cow shed to specify the breeds. In Pavilion 9, I saw Aberdeen Angus, Brangus and Limangus, which is daubed “the Argentine breed.” Inadvertently, I seem to have slipped up an Angus walkway and am now faced with the backends of several cattle. Now, I know not to walk behind a horse but surely it’s not an issue to stand behind 550 kilos of cow, when they are lying down, is it?
In fact, all the animals in the same row are doing exactly the same thing — lying or standing — so I contemplate changing the phrase in my mind to “copy cow.” I’m sure it’s a herd mentality, but it does seem strange they are so uniform in their actions when they are so clearly far from home and away from their natural turf.
I slither back down the walkway, past a herd of young cowboys booted and bereted up, and smoking for all their worth. They look both hot and cool. A few pens further down, another farmhand looks slightly less cool as he runs to the back end of one his wards to catch its poo in a bucket, then sprints the other way to catch some fresh urine from another. Of course. We townies all want a piece of the countryside but we don’t want to smell it too much.
Dotted among the cows are stalls selling leather waistcoats and wool-lined boots, a more economical version of the popular Australian Ugg boots which retail for a few hundred dollars. The Argentine booties were a piddly 400 pesos, a perfect gift for those in the northern hemisphere who will shortly be transported into autumn. I make a mental note to return on the last day to snap up some wares for my mother, sister and friends who I’ll be visiting next month, and see if I can’t do some haggling.
How to fit in
Blending in at La Rural’s agricultural fair is all about your choice of headgear. While farmhands sport the classic boina beret-style flat cap so commonly seen out in the countryside, wannabe cowboys and girls may want to opt for a Panama-esque leather number which will keep heads warm and the sun off your brow, and ensure you aren’t lumbered with a cow or sheep to drag around behind you for the duration of your visit. For the more professional farm type, a baseball cap with the brand of machinery or seed fertilizer is also an acceptable option, proving that you are in the know. Woollen beanie hats are strictly for townies, and given that this is the one event where townies embrace the countryside, it makes sense to steer well clear of those.
For those hoping to pass off as a modern farmer’s wife, and perhaps hoping for a best-in-show rosette at the luncheon table at Terraza del Central, go for furry ear muffs disguised as a head band, a baby-pink boina, or indeed something that might be better off at a royal wedding. Essentially, it is a man’s world at the agricultural fair, so your gender is enough.
Part three of three tomorrow.
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