It’s Fiesta Time Again in Jocotepec

It’s fiesta time again in Jocotepec!  We’re in the middle of our patronal festival honoring Senor del Monte, the Lord of the Mountain. 

I just love these days in Joco.  There’s a parade every day, complete with marching bands, floats, and dancers.  Each day of the festival is sponsored by a different group of folks in Joco.  The length and elaborateness of the parade depends on the wealth of the group.  The parade on 11 January 2012, sponsored by the local fishermen, was small, but times are hard here in Joco this year. 

The local folks who used to go north to the US to earn money to send home haven’t been able to go.  The rainy season wasn’t very rainy last year and so Lake Chapala is low and the fishermen are having a hard time of it.  The real estate market and, thus, new construction, has bottomed out.  2011 was tough for everybody.

But that doesn’t mean that people aren’t still thankful to Senor del Monte.  So the parades and processions continue, albeit on a reduced scale.  And they all have the same general layout, which I’ll lay out below. 

Leading every parade are members of the local constabulary.  In the case of today’s parade, two traffic enforcement officers:

Immediately behind them, announcing that the parade is on its way, is the cohete guy and his assistant:


Cohetes are sky rockets on a stick.  They supposedly ward off evil spirits, but they also announce to the local folks that the parade is coming their way so they can leave their homes to watch. 

A band immediately follows.  In this case, one composed of local school children:



One of the things that fascinates me about these bands is that the drums [and the bands are LOADED with drums] are always played by girls:

and the bugles are always played by boys:

Although by the time they reach their teens, there are almost never girls in the band at all. 

And no parade would be complete without a few floats.  Tonight’s parade only had four.  The first celebrated the miracle of the fish:


[I have a particular fondness for this one because Jesus bears a startling resemblance to my son’s late father!] 

There are never a large number of floats in a Joco parade.  The difference is that the more prosperous groups have more elaborate floats.  The ones in this evening’s procession were very nicely done, but obviously done on a budget.  


Plastic flowers, reuseable backdrops, and, in a fabulous example of Mexican ability to reuse and repurpose, a Christmas tree to symbolize a forest!  

And I have to admit that the next float made me laugh to myself.  In an area where sheep and goats are raised by many folks, this creature adorned the third float:  

Ja ja ja ja ja!  I love it!

Between or among the floats, there are always dancers.   In this case, the Aztec dancers from San Juan Cosala, another small pueblo in Jocotepec municipality. 

Where the fellow above got his hands on a conch shell is beyond my knowledge!

And more dancers:

And there’s usually a strolling mariachi band:

You know the parade is winding up when the bomberos [firemen] come through.  In this case, only this guy:

In between the policia who lead the parade and the bombero who closes it, there are also members of the sponsoring group who march in the procession and then right into the local iglesia [church] to pray for a good year to come and be blessed by the priest. 

So, yeah, we may not have anything as large or elaborate as the Rose Bowl parade or even the smallest of the Mardi Gras parades in New Orleans, but we still enjoy them.  The mixture of old beliefs and customs, combined with motorbikes always gives me a little thrill. 

 For some additional photos and a video of the parade, check out our local website.  And while you’re watching, be sure to play “Where’s barb?”.  It’s like “Where’s Waldo?” except you’re looking for la gringa…..and I don’t think you’ll have a hard time picking  her out!


About Barbara

in april of 2008, i moved from the united states to mexico. during my working days, i held lots and lots of jobs....almost all chosen because they were fun or interesting instead of how much they paid. when i started thinking about retirement (in my 40s), i realized that i would never be able to retire to a country where english was the native language. and although i had traveled to every state in the US -- and lived in lots of them -- i had never been outside the country with the exception of canada and mexico. and since you now know that i could never afford to retire in canada (even to the french-speaking area), mexico won by default.
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11 Responses to It’s Fiesta Time Again in Jocotepec

  1. Kathi says:

    Yes, it was a fun evening. If you look at the link Barb suggests you’ll see that the camera LOVES her!
    Just wait to see the one Friday evening…’s really the best one.
    Looking forward to seeing the horses.

  2. Mike Osborn says:

    Nice job! This is my 5th January in Joco and unfortunately I’ve only been to one parade; this due to my having to get around in a wheelchair, the parking (or lack thereof) and the cool damp weather that wreaks havoc with my muscles. Yet, your photo essay has spurred me to bundle up and tough it out. I plan to make my way up to the Plaza on Friday evening.
    It is sad that the economic downturn has taken such a toll. There has been a slow degradation for the past 5 years or so. I applaud my neighbors for all their efforts and it is the least I can do to show up and enjoy the show… that is, expect for cohetes. Damn pieces of TNT on a stick! My Princesa (my dog), spends half of January hiding.
    Mucho amor, abrazos y besos a todo!

    • Barbara says:

      Mike, with all the folks that are gonna be at the plaza tonight [friday], i doubt you’ll be cold! hope to see you there!

  3. Pingback:

  4. Thank you so much for sharing with us. We have added a link to your post on our website – we welcome your contributions any time! Un abrazo fuerte!

    • Barbara says:

      Liliana, thank YOU so much for sharing the post on your website. i love living in Joco, and you’ll see that a lot of my blog posts are about it. so if you see any post that you think might interest your readers, feel free to share on

  5. gayle says:

    Funny thing about parades. A bunch of people coming together to look at another bunch of people in a procession. They each are there to look at the other. Portland Oregon has many parades: Macy’s Xmas Parade, Rose Parade, Gay Rights Parade, & many, many smaller neighborhood parades on various dates, for a variety of occasions (St. Paddy’s Day, Mothers Day, etc.) I think my favorite is the night parade during the rose festival (usually last weekend in May). A ‘fun run’ of 3 miles of ridiculously costumed people preceeds it, and then there are about 100 ‘floats’ of varying degrees of effort, all lighted. Most of the people watching are drinking on the street. Most of the people on the ‘floats’ are drinking or already drunk. And, yes, all the parades are led by police & followed by fire. And then street maintenance cleanup crews & street flushers. (Bet those aren’t there for the parades in Mexico!)

    Aren’t parades kind of a weird phenonomon? People gathering in an ‘official’ capacity to watch other people. Huh.

    ps: I DID enjoy the photo of the chosen Jesus. What a hunk!
    pps: what’s with all the warm gear people were wearing? was it COLD there today?


    • Barbara says:

      hola, Gaby! thanks for the comments….and yeah, now that you mention it, i guess parades are kinda weird!

      and, no, it’s not cold here from your perspective, but after dark it does seem cold from ours. temperatures are about 70 during the day and go down to maybe a low of 45 or so at night.

  6. Marty Redmond says:

    We go every night to the processiones (parades) and then take a seat in the plaza with Mexican friends and chat until it’s time to go back to the casa. Me compadre Chuy and his esposa Yolanda were both born here in Jocotepec and seem to be related to everyone, we meet alot of people that way, it ia also the best way I know to learn the language.

  7. Gigi says:

    Love the parade. And you are a star! The festival is so fun, I remember it fondly….look forward to seeing it again one day!

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