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Craving chicharra? Get to the Xcalachén festival early

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Hungry visitors chow down at the November 2017 Chicharra Festival in Mérida. Photo: Facebook

Mérida, Yucatán — City officials and the residents of Xcalachén officially presented the third Chicharra Festival 2018, a celebration that expects to attract more than 10,000 visitors and sell two tons of crispy fried pork bits.

The third Festival of Chicharra de Xcalachén will be noon-5 p.m. (or until the chicharra runs out) Saturday, June 16 at Calle 95 and 64, south of the Centro. Games and live music will enliven the afternoon.

The press conference, hosted by Chicharronería La Lupita, included the coordinator of community policy, Carolina Cárdenas Sosa, and the director of tourism and economic promotion, Enrique Domínguez León alongside the president of Canirac, Alejandra Pacheco Montero and the owner of the business, Elda Teresita Rodríguez Gonzáles.

The event began last July, with the simple goal of energizing Xcalachén, a neighborhood south of the main square. City officials estimated 2,000 to 4,000 visitors, which merchants in the neighborhood considered overly optimistic. But their goals were exceeded when around 10,000 attendees overwhelmed the neighborhood. Food ran out by 3 p.m.

So the city committed to organizing the festival twice a year. They were better prepared for the onslaught the following November when the second festival was held.

Elda Teresita Rodríguez Gonzáles, who represented the chicharroneros, thanked the town hall for its commitment to the neighborhood and for helping to ensure that the party takes place every year.

The festival has indeed helped revitalize the neighborhood. On one abandoned corner, a pharmacy has opened.

Elda Rodríguez commented that her grandparents started selling the product more than 70 years ago.

The popular bar snack is called chicharrón in other parts of Latin America, and are similar to pork rinds. Pig parts are rendered in their own fat and seasoned only with salt.

This neighborhood has been associated with this food since the 1950s, although its popularity started to die out in the 1980s.

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