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Story Competition Aims to Capture City’s Oral History

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By Karla Ortiz

For the first time ever, “The Story I Want to Tell” contest was held at the city’s Public Library last week. It aims to gather stories about the old days of San Miguel de Allende.

To that end, older adults were encouraged to enter the contest by writing about a personal anecdote about life in the city long ago or about a memory of a historical event in our city. This contest resulted in ten rich stories that discuss traditions and chronicle the oral history of a time when people used to cross San Miguel’s hills to get to their school, to a shop, or to a cantina; a yesterday when children could play quietly in the rivers and the hills and return home late in the night with no fear for their safety.

The ten stories will soon be collected in an anthology that will be available at the Public Library.

During the award ceremony, the Loyola Educational Center of Salamanca Folkloric Ballet performed group and couples dances typical to different parts of the republic. Afterward, the first, second, and third places were awarded, although it was made clear that the awards were merely honorary. The participants have made a great contribution to remembering the history of San Miguel, contest officials said.

An honorable mention was awarded to the story “Lo que me queda de la Purísima” by Fernando Antonio Méndez. The third-place honor went to “Recuerdos del Sabino Guanajuato” by Juan Antonio Ruiz Vázquez. Second place went to “Crónicas basadas en hechos reales” by María Dolores Juárez, 102 years old. Finally, the first-place award went to the story “La Viña y el Campo Marte” by Filadelfo Arellano.

Each participant was formally recognized for their work and received a gift from each of the contest’s sponsors: VEDESA, a Salamancan candle factory owned by the artisan Ramón Ramírez (who has worked for Pope Benedict XVI), sponsored a wax gift for each of the contestants. The other sponsor, the Perceval Medieval Castle, gave each winner a ticket for a dinner show at the venue.

The jury was also thanked for its deliberations and for spending hours discussing the winning works. The jury included Patricia Merrill, architect, writer, cook, and a great connoisseur of local history thanks to her grandfather J Cruz Márquez, a locally well-known writer; Carmen Rioja from the Literary Hall of Fine Arts, a restorer and one of the organizers of the San Miguel Writers’ Festival; and Gloria Rodríguez Navarrete, a folklorist and great connoisseur of the traditions, culture, and history of San Miguel.

 

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