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The Culture Vulture

About cultural things: music, dance, literature and theatre.

“ ….. Siete de julio, San Fermin ….”
Sunday, July 9, 2023 @ 6:34 AM

By The Culture Vulture

So goes the traditional song about the start of the Sanfermines, the fiesta de los toros that is celebrated every year for seven days in Pamplona (Navarra).

This is, of course, the famous festival of morning bullrunning (el encierro) and afternoon bullfights The event honours San Fermín, the city’s patron saint, who was the first bishop of Pamplona. The festival was made world famous by the North American journalist and author Ernest Hemingway, a massive fan, back in the 1920s.

 

 

 

 Fiesta de San Fermín 

At 8.00 am a rocket is fired at the bull enclosure in this Basque town and the six bulls for the “fight” later that day are released and run through the streets to the plaza de toros, one mile away. Fans, idiots and American drunks run ahead of the bulls and try to avoid being gored/trampled/killed.

 

 

 

 

 

             Factcheck

Pamplona bull run deaths are rare, but since 1910 when record-keeping began, 16 people have died. Of the 16 runners who have lost their lives, 14 of them hailed from Spain. All but a couple of these men lived in the local Navarra region. Women have participated in the bull runs since 1974 (when new regulations were passed), but all fatalities have been men. The most recent death at the Pamplona bull run was in 2009, but there are between 50 and 100 injuries every year.

 

I first went to the Fiesta de San Fermín in 1971 aged 21. At the time I was living, studying and working in San Sebastián (Guipúzcoa), next door to Navarra. Needless to say, I wasn’t brave/stupid/drunk enough to run in front of the bulls. I remained safely behind the wooden barrier and took umpteen photos with my brand-new Minolta SLR camera.

But I did find it exhilarating!

And the afternoon corrida de toros was my debut as a spectator. What a spectacle! What an atmosphere! I loved it!

 

Toreros

Little did I know at the time, that the young debutant (novillero) that day would go on to become the leading torero of his generation. He was Francisco “Paquirri” Rivera, aged just 23 at the time.

I later learned that this unassuming little man was part of the Ronda dynasty of bullfighters, which includes his two sons.

“Fran” Rivera Ordoñez, the elder son, is now retired and runs the Ronda bullring, La Real Maestranza de Caballeria de Ronda. Paquirri’s younger son Cayetano Rivera Ordoñez is still active as he too approaches retirement.

Sadly Paquirri died in September 1984 following a severe goring in the ring at Pozoblanco (Córdoba) in what was his last scheduled bullfight. He was just 36 years old.

The 2023 Sanfermines in Pamplona are into their third day, as I write. This year’s festival lasts until the end of next week.

 

© The Culture Vulture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acknowledgements:

EuroNEWS

MARCA

theculturetrip.com

Wikipedia



Like 1




2 Comments


lenox said:
Sunday, July 9, 2023 @ 5:47 PM

I went one year - actually, it was by chance as I was taking an Italian-plated car to the UK (for no particular reason. One does silly stuff when one is young). Arriving in Pamplona and discovering that it was the San Fermines in full swing, I went into a bar and met a load of local people dressed in white and red who told me they didn't like the English. I told them that I didn't like the Pamploneses at all (what are you going to do?). Anyway, we all had a merry time and eventually it was eight in the morning. 'Are you going to come running with us?' they asked. 'Well, I don't thi-', '...or are you a maricon?'.
So there it was. I was given a rolled-up newspaper as a weapon and off we raced, followed by a dozen high-spirited bulls.
I shan't do that again.


Salmon Smuts said:
Sunday, July 16, 2023 @ 1:30 PM

SPECTACLE TO BE ASHAMED OF. I AM WAITING FOR THE NEXT COMMENTATOR TO TELL US THAT THOSE BULLS LIVE TO DIE IN THE RING AND THAT THEY ARE NOT TERRIFIED TO BE LET LOOSE WITH FIREWORKS GOING OFF AND HUNDREDS OF MORONS TAUNTING THEM. A FEW MORE INJURIES WOULD BE APPROPRIATE.


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