This Exploding Sledgehammer Fiesta is an annual event in San Juan de la Vega in Mexico. Not surprisingly, as many as 50 celebrants are wounded each year.
The novel Stones for Ibarra was written by an upper crust American woman, Harriet Doerr (played by Glenn Close in the movie), the granddaughter of the Huntington Library robber baron, whose husband decided they should move to Mexico to re-open the gold mine that was stolen from his gringo ancestors during the Mexican Revolution. Every month they get invited to a local festival, at which a good time is had by all until somebody is mortally injured. When she asks about the latest maimed boy, she is always told by a padre, in effect, “It’s a shame he lost a body part, but something like that always happens at the Festival. But what are you going to do? Not celebrate the Exploding Sledgehammer Fiesta? I don’t think so!”
But that was like 65 years ago. Yet not all that much seems to have changed in Mexico.
I have this vague impression that the continuing crappiness of Mexican culture is in part a passive-aggressive anti-gentrification strategy to keep gringos from overrunning Mexico. Mexicans know the climate in Mexico is much nicer than in Illinois and Pennsylvania, so it would be only natural for Americans to retire to nice, cheap Mexico. But they’d rather keep Mexico Mexican and not have a lot of Americans around acting like they lived there. Hence, the continuing high accident rate.