Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Countdown to the Feria (Fair) XXXV !

In 48 hours, starting at 5 a.m. (before the flipping sun has even come up, for heaven's sake!) the Feria begins, and today there were people all over the village posting the schedules on doors, just in case you were not one of the impatient ones and got your schedule a week ago when the printer dropped them off.... like me. And by the way, Feria starts every day this way... and ends sometime after 1 a.m.
I love this view of the village, taken from La Loma about 9 a.m.
There is a palpable thrumming of energy throughout the village and since this is also a sort of 'homecoming' period, a lot of guests are beginning to arrive. I met an older woman who lives on my street this morning as I was sweeping it (this is another story I have to tell...) and she introduced me to her sister. This afternoon I met someone's cousin, and tomorrow an entire family will be coming to my house to collect the things they have been buying for the past two weeks. (Not exactly a garage sale, but productive nonetheless.) The trucks bringing beer and soft drinks have been unloading beverages at every little tienda all week long. It would not do to run out of beer! Tomorrow the military will arrive to begin setting up the check points coming into the city and also going into various venues where lots of people will be. They do check for guns and knives.

My art teacher said today when only one child showed up for class (usually there are six or seven), "Everyone is thinking only about the Feria and practicing for the parade and not about learning art." And in the distance I could hear the sounds of bands practicing, a sure sign that Feria is near. What is called the Battle of the Bands in the U.S. is called "Ecuentro de Bandas de Marcha" and it's at 4 p.m. on Friday, the 12th.

But my favorite, and the one I wish I could participate in, is the Cabalgata or horse 10 a.m. on Friday. I  adore watching all the riders on their high stepping, gleaming-coated Paso Finos and other breeds. I find it less appealing to see the drunks astride some spavined, underfed and mistreated creature they have nearly drug into town for the event. Yes, it's a mix, but that is Feria. Here's a photo from last year's event before the ride got under way.

The undisputed high point of the day for the women is the presentation of the young women who are vying to be Queen of Barichara. They are candidates from all the vedetas (equivalent to 'shires' or regions in this area) and they represent Barichara at various events throughout the state of Santander and sometimes beyond. Two years ago I sewed the dress for the representative from Salitre, the vedeta where Corasoma (the finca I was affiliated with) was located. She did not win, but came in third. This event is at 7 p.m. and is attended by all the girl's families and other relatives and friends, so it is a huge, huge gathering. I enjoy watching the girls make their 'walk' down the aisle, escorted by a young man who is usually part of the group of the military presence here during the festival.

There will be a dance every night up on the fairgrounds, where people can drink and eat and laugh and joke and have four days of carousing with family and friends. The new mayor of Barichara is quite firm about keeping the drinking up there and not all over the city, but we will see how well he manages.

Sabado/Saturday is about expositions and animals and presentations (more fiesta!) of traditional dances and foods, so it will be somewhat subdued after Friday's grand opening with all those intense activities.

Some very creative designs and use of materials last year.
It is on Domingo/Sunday when the Queen candidates are installed on their floats, something that takes several hours, after Mass of course. Floats are lined up all over the village, girls are either sitting or standing on them, braced to wave and throw candy for about two hours as they wend their way through the streets and past the judges. The parade starts at 2 p.m. and the judges' decision is announced at 7:30 p.m. up at the fairgrounds. Then the dancing will begin and those not chosen will wander about with tight groups of friends mingling and giggling until their feet are too sore to take another step and they finally head home.

After all of these days of getting up before 5 a.m., finally reason prevails and nothing happens on Monday until 8 a.m. And the day is scheduled to unfold somewhat sedately with parades of cows, festivals of chickens, gatherings of camposinos and acknowledgement of Guane, the nearest and oldest village in the state (I think) and finally another dance at 8:30 p.m. to close out Feria XXXV, "Ferias and Fiestas Culturales de la solidaridad y el retourno de Barichara" for 2012.

I'm charging up my camera batteries for the Feria, but I'm nearly worn out writing about it!


  1. Sounds like great fun... looking forward to your next post and pics!

  2. I had forgotten until tonight - the night before - that fireworks and loud music are part of getting wound up for tomorrow... But fortunately the threat of having to get up at 5 a.m. (for some - not me!) has finally put an end to that. Monday is a national holiday, so that is why they will be going strong on Sunday night and all through Monday. I'll be sure to post some photos promptly and thanks for stopping by!

  3. Nifty. It looks like a great festival. Is there any special kind of food that is served?

    1. You can have mute (pronounced moo tee) which is the traditional soup made from vegetables, water and whatever fresh meat is lying around... (just kidding) usuallly from cabra (goat). And to go with that you can have a drink made from panella and water with the juice of a lime called limonada or a cervesa (beer), but a typical Colombian lunch is either beef or chicken with rice, yucca, potatoes (usually all three) and a frijoles (bean) side but lately they've been adding finely sliced lettuce, cucumbers, carrots and tomatoes as a side dish 'salade' thanks to the European influence in this community. You won't go hungry in Colombia!