Friday, October 9, 2009

Spanish Ferias

Whats all that about then? If you have visited Spain you may have seen the odd advert or publicity mentioning a feria. There's also a good chance you have not seen such publicity - this is the big event for an area, city, town, village. And as they are often held on the same dates each year, and local families will have visited the feria for many many years there is not really a great need to publicise these event for the locals. And, although visitors are made more than welcome, ferias are a very big local social gathering and celebration.

The Feria is a family affair, often with a funfair for the kids (and big kids of all ages), and a range of 'casitas'. The casita is probably best desribed as a club house (and this is not using the Spanish version of a 'club' which is another subject matter altogether!). The casitas will be managed by local clubs - for example the horse riding club, the motorcycle club, the political parties, etc. In each club the members and guests meet up for a great big party - to drink, eat, listen to music and dance!

At some ferias the Casitas are closed affairs, open only to guests and members - at other ferias the emphasis is on open Casitas - open to all - my local Fuengirola feria is very open, as is the Jerez Feria, also known as the horse feria.

Visiting a feria is a great way to see Spanish culture and life style. The whole town or village will gather together and have a great time - many local businesses will be closed for the duration while the local folk live like kings and queens. People will take out not inconsiderable loans to live very well during their feria - new colourful and superb famenco dresses for the women and girls (you often see mothers and daughters dressed in the same outfit), new kit for the menfolk and where applicable a very good makeover for the horses, and optional carriage!

At the feria itself, and bear in mind these can last from a few days to over a week, the locals gather and have a great time night after night. In a larger place, such as a town like Fuengirola, each suburb will also have a smaller feria at different times of the year - these guys like to party and a year is a long time to wait for a feria! There is a real buzz about the town, as local excitment builds in the run up to a big feria.

Get on your horse - Many ferias involve the horse. Horses are riden into the feria grounds and the riders sit and drink on horse back outside their favourite casitas. The women folk serve the menfolk, fetching and carrying the drinks to their men on horseback. Even the most hard core feminists I have met down here seem to feel this tradition is fine!

Wonderful carriages are often splendidly tuned out to ferry the owners and their guests to and from the feria, and to parade around the grounds in style.

In some cities the feria is so large that the site has to be split - Malaga feria for example takes place during the day with the funfair in the town centre, then on a evening the visitors move out to the purpose built feria ground on the outskirts of the town, to party until the early hours.

As night falls the ferias are usually lit spectacularly with thousands of lights lighting the avenues. Flamenco dancing will be taking place in many of the casitas, with loud live music and singing.

Sherry (the white dry fino), Rebujitos (fino sherry and lemonade) are very popular drinks.

Just a great place to be to soak in the wonders of Spain.

Off to Fuengirola feria again this weekend


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