Feria de Sevilla

May 2004

Late spring is an especially gentle time in Andalucía. The rolling hills, which stretch to the horizon with countless rows of olive trees, are blanketed with wild flowers that punctuate the soft grass. The starkness of Holy Week processions is but a memory in the many small towns and larger cities. In a few weeks the hills will be brown from the summer heat, but now it is time to celebrate the renewal of the earth around them.

For a few days at the end of April, Tim and Jonathan visited Southern Spain to call on some of the people who make artisan products available to you at La Tienda. Over breakfast they met with Fermín who provides some of our best olive oil. As my sons drove through the countryside they stopped by to visit with the family which gathers our saffron, and another family which harvests our rice. In Granada they met a small family of potters who will be fashioning for us ceramics typical of the region. It will be a big job for them, so Christmastime will be their goal. Along the Atlantic coast they visited another potter who will be making rustic cazuelas for La Tienda.

We are a modest family company, so we make an effort to support our Spanish counterparts, who also work together as families to provide truly artisanal products. When this is not practical, we make an effort to form genuine personal relationships with members of larger family-owned companies. One of our cordial relationships is with Juan Hidalgo whose family's bodega has been operating since 1792. 

So, when business was done, Tim and Jonathan headed for the classic Andalucían town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda. Through there many of the riches of the New World passed by on their way up the Guadalquiver River to Sevilla. After visiting the bodega the next morning they joined Juan at the incredible Spring Fair/Feria of Sevilla. The long rows of colorful tents at the fair grounds were reminiscent of the olive trees which stretched for miles on the hills! Elegant horse drawn carriages were bringing families "dressed to the nines" in traditional flamenco dresses and suits as they headed to their individual casetas/pavilions.

And everybody was dancing -- young and handsome, old and not so handsome, little children and grandmas -- nobody cared about appearances - it was time to enjoy life. Colorful flamenco dresses were swirling as ladies of all ages and their partners enthusiastically danced the Sevillana. No one is permitted to refuse an invitation to dance -- so soon Tim was invited to try his hand with the popular flamenco-type dance. In the back of the caseta Jonathan was enjoying copas of Manzanilla with other young men and feasting on local langostinos/tiny lobsters. As he looked out at the booths where young people try their skills for prizes he was amused to see that rather than competing for dolls or teddy bears, the prizes were chorizo and jamón!

The Sevilla Spring Fair is the biggest of them all, but you can find ferias throughout Spain just about any time of the year. In August there are roundups of the horses in Galicia. In May, the elegant Feria del Caballo in Jerez de la Frontera which features Lipizzaner horses from the Royal School of Equestrian Art. Mid- March is the incredible Las Fallas of Valencia; late June is the Fiestas de Foc in Alicante.

For the Spaniard, fiestas are not a tourist promotion. Fiestas are not even a "life-style": They are the essence of life itself. May you and your loved ones have a joyful time this spring.

Tu amigo,