Water was and is the basis of everyday life in this high mountain desert. Acequias were often built even before the houses or church in a new settlement, and as a community –based organization, acequias were the only government in the early settlements. The acequias in New Mexico were and still are protected by law.
The Dia de San Juan is celebrated on June 24th; on this day the water in the ditches is believed to be holy and it was the custom to bathe in the ditch on that day. June 24th was also the day for celebrating the corrida de gallo—the rooster pull. Villages challenged each other in this competition—here it was usually Questa versus Cerro. A live rooster was buried up to its neck (or tied on the ground) and riders on horse took turns trying to pull the rooster out of the ground and keeping possession of the bird. Other riders would try to take the bird and the game could often be quite dangerous. The winning team was the one that has the rooster at the end of an agreed-upon time—usually sunset.