A mini-feria

Well, it is September after all, and after the long, extremely hot summer, people come out to play again, at their local ferias. The most famous September ferias here in Andalucia are the Goyescas in Ronda, which happened earlier in the month, and the Vendimia, the grape harvest festivals which takes place in Jerez and Malaga - you can still catch the one in La Viñuela, which finishes tomorrow. I went to our local feria yesterday, in Camas, my husband's home town, a not-overly-attractive conurbation just outside Seville. It was a bakingly hot day, around 40 degrees. A friend had loaned me her daughter's traje de gitana, flamenco dress, so I was dying for my little girl to have her first experience of wearing spots and frills (in her case, complete with matching frilly knickers). And as she was decked out in her colour-coordinated-flower-in-the-hair finery, and I though it only fair that I follow suit, so I donned my own get-up, which consists of a fitted skirt made of fairly thick, heavy material, shirt and shoes. Turned out, I was the only adult who had bothered to dress up in their traje de flamenca. Instead of feeling out of place, even though I am clearly foreign, I felt quite happy - after all, isn't this what you're supposed to wear at a feria? As the barman in one of the casetas put it, the rest are all "catetos" - hicks. Catetos or not, there were many, many, fewer feriantes there this year. Huge, empty casetas - a sad sight. Within minutes of arriving (I was "perspiring", or is it "glowing" if you're a lady)? Luckily for us, though less so for the people of Camas, there were very few casetas compared to previous years - about 10. So we didn't have to stagger too far under the sun's glare to get from one to the next. The Peña de Betis, Izquiera Unida, PSOE - all the usual suspects, plus a few smaller ones. All had entertainment for the kids, as it was Sunday afternoon, peak family visiting time. Clowns, games, competitions; the municipal one even had a Sponge Bob Square Pants stage show. But without electric fans, the casetas were like ovens - you escaped the direct heat from the sun, to be confronted by a stuffy tent heated by hot human bodies. Chinese vendors sold yapping dogs and sparkly wands. Beautifully groomed Arab horses pranced along the sandy thoroughfare between the two rows of casetas, ridden by smartly turned out jinetes and a few amazonas, one of the latter wearing a stunning dark-red velvet jacket (I bet she was "glowing" too). I'm looking forward to checking out the super-elegant amazona styles at our own local romeria (pilgrimage) next month, the Romeria de Torrijos, which is apparently the fifth-most important in Spain. Then, of course, we went to the attraciones - the funfair. My son loved the bumper cars: first he tried the big ones, with his Dad, and then the little ones, driving on his own. The look of sheer delight on his face as he crashed into all the other kids' cars was amazing. It was his Dad's idea - I had forgotten that fairground attractions like that can be such fun for children (though his Dad had a pretty good time too - teaching your son to drive is something most fathers love). The other attractions - ghost train, bouncy castle, various merry-go-rounds, including one with real, live ponies - were more or less deserted, though it was mid-afternoon, when all sensible people are tomando un cafe in a cool, air-conditioned bar. We didn't spend long at the feria, largely due to the unbearable heat, but it was worth going for the kids to get the experience, since it's such an integral part of Andalucian life. So whether you live here, or are just visiting, if there's a feria on near you, don't miss it.
Blog published on 13 September 2010