The Costa Rica News (TCRN) – Most people are familiar with the renowned Running of the Bulls festival that takes place in Pamplona, Spain; this death defying activity has made its way on more than its fair share of bucket lists. What many don’t realize is that a similar and equally adrenaline-fueled adventure exists right here: Bullfighting, Costa Rica style.
Typically, the term ‘bullfighting’ conjures images of valiant and impeccably dressed matadors slowly killing their bovine opponents while teasing them with red muletas (capes) to the delight of thousands of spectators.
However, in Costa Rica a completely different version of this beloved sport exists that is similar to its Pamplona counterpart where the playing ground is leveled for both man and animal in an incredibly amusing and warped version of the children’s game, tag
In Costa Rica bullfights, a group of Ticos (both men and women), many sporting silly hats, superhero capes, or costumes, surround one or more bulls that are released into the arena. In most instances, the bull has some sort of snatchable item belted to its back, like a balloon or flag, with the goal being to grab it without bodily harm. The lucky amateur bullfighter that is able to snag it off of the enraged bull’s back before getting trampled or gored can win big bucks, other prizes, or raise money for nonprofit endeavors. But there’s also many times where no money is involved and it’s just for the sheer bragging rights of being in the ring with the bulls.
Another alternative involves one bull versus a four person teeter totter that is situated in the center of the arena where the participants hover just out of reach of the bull’s horns as it passes under them. Hopefully. There’s definitely no lack of creativity when it comes to Tico bullfighting.
No matter which version of the bullfight you see, Costa Rican bull festivals encompass the most thrilling aspects of bullfighting, without harming any animals in the process, although this can’t be said for the participants. They also provide enormous entertainment value while benefitting those crazy enough to try and dodge 1,500 pounds of pure horned rage to make some money and have the best bar story in town.
This Tico tradition is found throughout the year for many festivals, although the most popular time is during the Zapote fair, which takes place at the end of the year. If you want a true Costa Rican experience, make sure to check out one of its most endeared spectator sports.
The Costa Rica News (TCRN)
San Jose, Costa Rica
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