I went to an exploding hammer festival last week. Yes you read that right. A little-known festival in San Juan de la Vega near the town of Celaya, Mexico. I went with a friend named Todd and a local guy named Natha who had previously met at each other at the festival.
We hopped into Natha’s car and it took around 30 minutes to get to the village. When we arrived in San Juan de la Vega, we could already hear some of the explosions going off. We walked around town a bit to take some pictures before going to the parade. Time to put on our earplugs.
The parade caught me by a bit off guard. I didn’t expect to see so many explosions there. The parade-goers were sprinkling powder (a mixture and gunpowder and sulphur) onto the ground and then smashing a sledgehammer into the gunpowder to cause an explosion. The smell of explosion was a bit toxic and not something you want to be breathing in a lot. Eventually we stepped away from the parade and headed to the railroad tracks. I have to admit it was giving me a bit of anxiety because the explosions were coming from all directions.
Let’s rewind a bit. The reason behind this festival is to honor local patron saint, San Juanito. He was considered to be the Robin Hood of Mexico (in terms of stealing from the rich and giving in to the poor). During the Mexico Revolution, bandits honored by using exploding hammer by the railroad tracks in order to stop the train so they could rob it of everything. Back to the present day, we did stop to observe some explosions on the railroad tracks at this festival. However, that wasn’t where most of the big explosions were happening. These were taking place on a field outside of town.
Everything was in full swing by the time we arrived at the field. People were gathered around everywhere. An ambulance was there. Police were around. Some were just watching the chaos unfold. Others were taping the little packs of explosives to the sledgehammer. Willing (and crazy) participants then walked to a certain section of the field to raise the sledgehammer above their head and smash it down onto a metal anvil to create a massive (and dangerous) explosion as you can see by the picture above.
As the festival started to wind down, myself a few other tourists got to try it for ourselves. They only attached one or two little packs of explosives to the hammer for us. This was a smart idea considering some debris got stuck in my hand (I should have worn gloves) when I smashed a sledgehammer with two explosives. Other than that mistake, I didn’t have any other issues. I wore eye protection, face mask, long pants although I would bring a long-sleeved shirt next time. Most of the people were attaching five or six or seven explosives to their sledgehammers. Some we were all the necessary protective equipment. Others not so much. Welcome to Mexico!
That was probably the craziest festival I have ever attended. Did I enjoy it? Yes! Would I go back again next year? Probably not. I knew going into this festival that I was going to be something extremely stupid. I’m glad I got to experience it. If you want to see more, you can go to my Instagram page and watch the story highlights from this crazy festival and you can click below to watch my friend Todd’s viral video from this festival a few years ago.
Anyways onto Flakes...
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