An Afternoon at “La Campechada”

Street dancers on stilts.

Street dancers on stilts.
Click to see the image larger.

Yesterday we caught a break in the weather.  I’m no weatherman, but without a doubt, 2013 must have been one of the rainiest years in Puerto Rican history.  So naturally, when my wife and I looked out the window in the morning and we say a pristine blue sky, we hit the road.

On my last post, about Fort San Felipe del Morro, I remember saying that my next post would be about some exotic location outside the San Juan Metroplex.  But this past weekend we had a great event going on in Old San Juan and I thought I might cover it so you could consider it for future years.

I’m talking about “La Campechada”, a street fair that has been going on since 2011 to celebrate the life of Puerto Rico’s most renown artists.  The first year it was dedicated —of course— to 18th century painter José Campeche, the Island’s first visual artist and considered by many as the best rococo artist in the New World.


The 2012 edition of “La Campechada” was dedicated to 19th century painter Francisco Oller, the only Latin American painter to play a role in the development of impressionism.

And finally, this year’s edition was dedicated to our beloved Rafael Tufiño, a modern era painter and printmaker who was known to all as “el pintor del pueblo” (the people’s painter) because of the “daily life” subjects that always inspired his work.

“La Campechada” is a city-wide cultural event that takes place in streets and squares of Old San Juan and includes theatrical events, concerts, literary workshops, artisan fairs, lots of food and “a little less beer” than other major events like the “San Sebastian Street Fiestas” that take place in the same spaces on the third weekend of January.

Artist selling his art on San Sebastian Street.

Artist selling his art on San Sebastian Street.

For example, yesterday there was art everywhere.  There was an exhibit at City Hall of Rafael Tufiño’s most popular serigraphs and paintings.  There were local artists posing at different points of San Sebastian Street so that aspiring artists could paint their portraits.  Other artists were selling their works along many of the city Streets.  And there were exhibits at most museums —most free of charge— to celebrate the occasion.  And of course, there was music, food and drinks at all squares throughout the city.

Dancers at Ballaja Military Baracks

Dancers at Ballaja Military Baracks

“La Campechada” is the kind of event where you can spend a day exploring the Old City, see the exhibits at your own pace, grab a snack, a beer or even a “piragua” and relax…  A piragua is what the locals call a “snow cone”, covered in thick fruit syrup, and served in a plastic cup (in the past they used to be served in a paper cone).  As a diabetic I have to watch my yearly quota of piraguas.  But yesterday I enjoyed one covered in raspberry syrup.  Yummy!!!


“La Campechada” was created by the Puerto Rico Institute of Culture with the support of the San Juan Museum of Art.  For more information and exact itineraries of future editions call 787-724-0700.

Se you soon…

©2013,Orlando Mergal, MA

Bilingual Content Creator, Blogger, Podcaster,
Author, Photographer and New Media Expert
Tel. 787-750-0000, Mobile 787-306-1590



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