August is an exhausting month for those of us who live in Jumilla, even if we are only spectating. We met a couple of people last week who live near Pinoso, who said they were “all fiesta-ed out” after their own fiestas, and we knew exactly what they meant.
The programme for the Feria y Fiestas de Agosto shows 10 days of celebrations: at the time of starting this post we were only into day 7 and I was already flagging a bit and seriously considering having a siesta, which may have been the only sane way to survive all the partying.
Although there are activities throughout the day, most of the main events are held at an hour when many of our compatriots would be considering retiring for the night. Not only that, but you usually have to add at least thirty minutes to the official start time. The Noche de las Antorchas was held in the castle, and with such an atmospheric setting we weren’t worried about the lateness of the hour.
We were fortunate to get tickets for the Gran Fiesta de la Exaltacíón del Vino held in the gardens of Salones Pio XII, which kicked off the proceedings for the 40th Fiesta de la Vendimia. Our first year in Jumilla we had joined the queue outside the Ayuntamiento to buy tickets, but they had sold out before we reached the head of the queue. The following year we queued outside the Roque Baños centre for several hours and this time we succeeded in getting tickets, presumably because they had limited everyone to a maximum of two tickets. This year we used our contacts and reserved our two tickets in advance: it’s not what you know, it’s who you know……!!
Apparently there were over 1,000 people at the Gran Exultación, and we soon realised that it was the place to go to and to be seen at. In our slightly biased view it wasn’t as enjoyable an evening as La Gran Cata, however with all our favourite bodegas being present, allowing us to wander around with wine glass in hand and ask for a taste of their best wines, plus plates of food constantly appearing, it was still a pretty damned good night out. Being a child at heart, I absolutely loved the firework display at the end!
The first procession of the August Feria was the Entrada Cristiana on Saturday night, where we saw the first Christians approaching us at about 20.45. As they were due to start at 20.00, we calculated that they probably left the Plaza del Rollo at 20.30, with the customary half hour delay. Not that we worried as we were sitting with friends at a table outside Bar California, which was a prime viewing spot, enjoying some Jumilla wine.
I have to say that I was impressed by the Gran Entrada Mora (the Moors) on Sunday night. We went to watch the start at a spot conveniently close to Nuestro Bar, where we saw a group of splendidly dressed Moros enjoying tapas and drinks outside, while two of the bands had congregated inside the bar, with only ten minutes to go before the scheduled start time. We decided to have some of the aptly named delicias de bacalao and a cold drink, as it didn’t looks as if the participants were about to go anywhere soon. Much to our amazement, the Gran Entrada Mora set off barely ten minutes late.
Although there are separate processions for the Moors and Christians, it’s all very civilised (apart from the fighting, that is) so lots of Moros appeared in the Cristianos procession and vice versa. I do think that it is a bit unfair that the Moors have the most sumptous costumes, though the Christians looked impressive too.
If one fiesta wasn’t enough, we also enjoyed the National Folklore Festival last weekend. The inaugural event was on Saturday night after the Entrada Cristiana, starting at 22.00. The Jardín de la Glorieta was packed as we witnessed Los Armaos marching onto the stage for the traditional “el Caracol” before we watched several folk groups playing music, singing and dancing.
Impressive though it was, I think we preferred the more intimate atmosphere on Monday in the barrio of San Antón. After performing several lively dances, the Grupo de Folklore Caramancho de Badajoz responded to the cries of “Otras” by persuading several onlookers to join in. Luckily John and I were hiding in the shadows!
If we had had the stamina there were dozens of events that we could have enjoyed, however we decided to limit ourselves as we were due to go away the following weekend – and we needed to conserve our energy for that. We still managed to enjoy several folk dancing events, the Artisans´Market, the Solemn Procession in honour of la Patrona, Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, the Children’s Cabalgata and the finale of the Moros y Cristianos Fiesta. The dramatic re-enactment of the Ambassadors and Parliament took place on the Paseo. This event involved lots of fighting and bodies falling to the ground, the clashing of heavy swords with sparks flying and a large horse charging towards the Moros. Spendid stuff!
Of course most people associate August in Jumilla with the Fiesta de la Vendimia, and so we had two groups of British visitors on Thursday who wanted to see what all the fuss was about. We showed them around Jumilla in the morning, stopping only to enjoy the Feria de Día (a glass of wine and special tapa for 2€) in a couple of good bars. We had also booked a visit to Bodegas Silvano Garcia to keep them occupied in the afternoon.
The visitors had opted for the Cabalgata Tradicional (the one that doesn’t involve getting drenched in red wine) so we all met up again at 20.30, having booked a couple of tables across the road from Nuestro Bar. Everybody ordered drinks and tapas, though once the procession reached us we were being handed tiny plastic glasses of wine and sangria, plus tastings of food, so we weren’t in any danger of becoming thirsty or hungry.
I nearly forgot to mention the Miniferia del Vino that took place on the first Saturday of the fiestas. 3€ for a wine glass that you can take home, then a stroll through the gardens, where we tasted wine at the many stands representing some of Jumilla’s best bodegas and snacked on cheese, ham, nuts etc. Not surprisingly we were there - as we have been for the last three years - tasting our favourite wines.
An honourable mention too for the Ofrenda de Uvas to the Niño de las Uvas, which is one of the most popular processions. We sat outside the ice-cream parlour enjoying home-made ice-cream (as you do) while watching men, women and children dressed in traditional costumes carrying their baskets of grapes into the Jardín.
An amazing ten days of celebrations in Jumilla – now we have to catch up the many hours of sleep that we missed!