People in Volusia County — and especially in Pierson — are well acquainted with rodeo. Horseback riding, barrel racing and roping are all events not uncommon in Pierson, thanks to groups like the Saddle Club.
But Daniel Aragón wants to bring a new rodeo tradition to the Northwest Volusia town: jaripeo.
“It’s a broad variety of events,” Aragón explained, where charros, or riders, participate in tests of skill and feats of courage, all for the entertainment of an eager audience.
Jaripeo is one part of the greater Mexican tradition of charrería.
“It’s the pride and tradition of Mexican culture,” Aragón told The Beacon. “This practice is carried out through horseback riding, combined with various forms of rodeo, equestrian activities and traditional forms of livestock events.”
The events include some that will be familiar to American rodeo fans, like roping and bull riding, but there are some that are more specific to jaripeo, too, such as:
- Horse-dancing, where charros test their horses’ ability to follow commands
- Paso de muerte, or the pass of death, where charros leap from one horse onto another
- Scramuza, or skirmish, an event that shows off coordination of women riders and their horses
Even the events that will be familiar to rodeo fans have a Mexican flair, featuring wide sombreros and flashy suits that glimmer under the hot Mexican — or, in this case, Florida sun.
With family ties to the Mexican rodeo and to Northwest Volusia, Aragón wants to introduce this Mexican tradition to Pierson.
Aragón lives and works in Crescent City, where he owns the One Stop Feed Store. While he lives in neighboring Putnam County, Aragón has spent plenty of time in Volusia County; he was born and raised in DeLand, and he has lived and worked in Seville and Pierson.
Asked why he wanted to make the drive to Pierson to establish a rodeo rather than in his own backyard in Crescent City, he said he was drawn to the small town.
Not only is there a good-sized Hispanic population, Aragón said, but the rodeo tradition is alive and well there.
“It’s known for the rodeo,” he said. “It’s a big horse city.”
Aragón was inspired to start his own club for a number of reasons. First, he was inspired by his father’s experience and determination.
Aragón’s father, now approaching 60 years old, immigrated alone to the U.S. as a child. He worked in ferneries in Pierson, and he trained horses for fernery owner James E. Smith.
Aragón fondly remembered watching his father work.
“I used to work the stalls,” he said. “I would love seeing the horses.”
When Aragón’s father made occasional trips to his birthplace in Guerrero, Mexico, he brought back traditions, like jaripeo events. Nowadays, his dad still rides horses.
Another goal for Aragón is to give people, especially youth, another thing to do in Pierson. While the Saddle Club, one of the town’s prominent rodeo event organizers, has given Aragón a lot of support for creating his club, the club’s president, Missy Monk, recognized that not everyone may feel comfortable joining such an established club, especially when there are not currently any Mexican members.
When this was mentioned to the Pierson Town Council at a meeting in October, Vice Mayor Robert F. Greenlund was shocked.
“At the Lions Club rodeo, there’s probably as many Hispanics there as there are whites. I don’t know why the kids feel that they’re not welcome at the Saddle Club,” he said. “Everybody is welcomed. Black, white, Hispanic, Asian.”
But the goal, Aragón said, is to work closely with the Saddle Club, and for the two groups to have members interested in events that each club promotes.
“We want them to try to come together more as a community,” the Saddle Club’s Monk told the Pierson Town Council. “They all like the same interests.”
Ultimately, the Town Council liked Aragón’s idea to bring Mexican rodeo events to the town, but they asked that he join a number of associations so his program is fully accredited.
While Aragón had hoped to get his program off the ground sooner, he is now aiming for January of 2023 to kick off his club, which he has named Jaripeo sin barreras, or “Jaripeo without barriers.”
The club will be open to anyone and everyone regardless of age, ethnicity or experience.
Anyone interested in joining the club may contact Aragón by email at Aragonfarms01@gmail.com.