The Cómpeta fair is just one of the estimated 3,000 fiestas held annually in Andalucia. The fair celebrates the patron saint of Cómpeta, Saint Sebastian, with live performances of singing and dancing every evening. The atmosphere in the village is electric from the firework display marking the opening of the festivities to the close of play four days later with the pilgrimage from the Plaza Almijara to the festival “HQ” in the new polideportivo (sports centre).
The Spanish really know how to put on a good fair – the parking arrangements are in themselves a feat in organisation in this mountain village where parking can be problematic at the best of times. With the Plaza Vendimia, the main car park and the Plaza Almijara all closed to traffic from 8am on 19th July to 6pm on 23rd July, local residents had to be imaginative in where to park, as did the many visitors from outwith the village who attend the fair, bringing potential traffic chaos. More space was made by filling in the old swimming pool, creating a few more places for parking – well, with the super new pool soon to be inaugurated, swimming aficionados will have all the facilities they need.
The village looked very festive – Plazas Vendimia and Almijara, as well as some of the main thoroughfares, were adorned with little flags of representing some of the nationalities resident in Cómpeta, giving an international flavour. Baskets and pots of flowers maintained by the town hall and stalls set up in the streets. There was also an aura of the old village fair in Blighty (the UK) – dodgems, roundabouts and coconut shies – all perfectly safe but without the manic health and safety rigmarole of northern Europe.
Those living in the pueblo were treated to stirring renditions by the local Cómpeta youth band in the early mornings. Marching proudly round the streets playing the trombone, trumpet and drum cannot be easy, given the steepness of inclines of some of the hills. Even the flag bearers would have a hard time – at least it wasn´t the heat of the day.
The music and dancing continued all night on the Friday and Saturday, and revellers could be found wandering home at 6.30a.m. having started to party at 11pm. The music was not traditional sevillanas or flamencos, but of a more modern sort, played live at the polideportivo. Such stamina and energy of both revellers and those providing the entertainment! I felt sorry for the street cleaners out at 8am cleaning up the debris after they had been partying all night.
During the day there were a foam fight for the kids, and a greasy pole for the adults in Plaza Vendimia, a fun bouncy castle in Plaza Almijara, and a number of musical events, all giving a festive flavour. The idea with the greasy pole is to see how far you can climb up it – a messy business! In the evening, in addition to the music, was the famous ribbon race for horsemen, cyclists and motor cyclists to show off their prowess in snatching a rolled up ribbon from a wire using a kebab stick. Always good sport.
The final procession from the church was a rather sober affair accompanied by the usual rockets but none of the usual fanfare. It is always great to see the horses and their riders dressed up, and the beautiful girls in their magnificent flamenco dresses.
The fair finally wound down in the early hours of Monday morning, and the amusements were packed up and sent on to the next village. The village returned to normal until the next time – the Night of the Wine (Noche del Vino) on 15th August – another marathon event when visitors come from far and wide to observe how the wine used to be made and taste it while enjoying the typical songs and dances that celebrate it. Life in Spain can be so hard…..!