For a while it looked as if the rain would play havoc with Spain’s National Day parade in Madrid last Sunday but in the end, it only stopped a few planes from participating in the fly past, as well as the parachutists who traditionally land right in front of the Royal stand. Not so many people turned out either, put off by the glowering clouds. Opposition leader Mariano Rajoy was there, despite the uproar he caused last Saturday when he told the PP leader in Andalucia, Javier Arenas, that he was going to have a really boring time Sunday, watching the march past. He didn’t put it quite as mildly as that, however, but used a “c” word that no well-educated Spaniard uses in decent company, least of all when referring to the nation’s Armed Forces. In an interview in one of the national papers to mark her first National Day as Defence Minister, Carmé Chacon, pointed out that the armed forces had gone from being very feared to very admired in just one generation. She also defended Rajoy, saying she didn’t think what he had said reflected his true feelings about the military.
The biggest street party in the world – that is, the Malaga feria – starts next Friday, August 15th and the city well not sleep until it ends on August 24th. The fair commemorates the re-conquest of the city by Isabella and Ferdinand in 1487 – any excuse for a fiesta! – and literally starts off with a bang. The impressive firework display can be seen for miles around and the best view is from the Port, or from the comfort of your own home now that Malaga’s TV station covers it live. From then on its castanets, flamenco dancing and singing and lashings of sherry all the way in the city’s central Larios Street, considered the best place to be by many people. The Feria ground – where the action is at night – is an immense gaudy, raucous fairyland of dazzling lights, deafening music, soaring ferris wheels and careering dodgem cars, an assault on all the senses which can be tiring for older people who don’t know their way around the casetas where the locals meet to drink and gossip. Millions of people from the surrounding areas and the rest of Spain visit the fair, although the tourists along the Costa del Sol seem unaware of what is going on just down the road. While every little town in Andalucia has its annual fair, most of them don’t come anywhere near to holding a candle to the Sevilla and Malaga fairs. They’re similar – but different – and you don’t know what the word feria means until you’ve been to both of them.
Whole most other people in San Sebastian were getting ready to throw themselves wholeheartedly into celebrating the city’s annual feria, some 3,000 radical left-wing nationalists, or abertzale, met at 5.30 pm in the city centre to protest the “state of exception” which they claim the central government in Madrid has declared in the Basque Country. To shouts of “independence”, “the only way is the struggle”, they also denounced the “the political lynching” of the recently released ETA terrorist, Iñaki de Juana Chaos, who was condemned to 3,000 years in jail for his part in the deaths of 25 people in the mid-1980s. An abertzakle leader told reporters there were many reasons for demanding a political change such as “the torture and violation of human rights of ETA prisoners”. The protest ended on the dot of 6.30 pm, when the city authorities officially inaugurated the feria.
A 24-year-old man was electrocuted in Benoján, near Ronda, last Thursday night when he tried to connect his caravan to an electricity post. He had only just arrived in the town to work in the fair to be held there this week. People living nearby, including the town’s mayor, Soraya García, rushed to help when they heard him scream as he fell from the post. He was still alive when an ambulance arrived five minutes later but died about an hour later at the Hospital Comarcal in Ronda. The man lived in Ronda and worked at the fairs held in the towns around Ronda in the summer.
Cártama Town Council plans to unify the annual ferias of both the town and the Estación next year in an effort to reduce spending. Mayor José Garrido said the ferias for the Virgen del los Remedios (Cártama town) and San Isidro (Cártama Estación) would be held on the same day but only the nocturnal celebration of the two saints would be affected, with the two towns holding their traditional daytime celebrations separately. He said the budget for the two separate celebrations this year amounted to €800,000, a sum he hopes to reduce next year. The idea will be put to the residents of both towns and their decision will be the final one. A few years ago, the then mayor of Coín tried to do something similar by eliminating one of the town’s two yearly ferias, in April and August. All he got was death threats for his pains and the townspeople continue enjoying their twice-yearly do.
Coín’s 12th Fiesta de la Naranja will be held on Saturday, May 24th, with different events taking place in the town’s three Plazas. Visitors will be able to enjoy local dishes and buy handicrafts in the Plaza Alameda, starting 11 am, while local non-profit-making organisations will hold a fund-raising market in the Plaza de la Villa. The evening events will be held in the Plaza de Pescao.
Marbella’s Parents Association is collecting signatures to protest the Town Hall’s decision to hold the annual fair on a site near two schools. The Socialist Party has suggested that the promenade and the Avenida del Mar as ideal locations for the fair.