Well, not so much for your life as for fun and merriment. Join the second annual Seville Quarter Running of the Bulls. Seville has a whole host of events scheduled for the week to celebrate the festival of San Fermines, and we have all the details.
In Spain, the Running of the Bulls is an event steeped in history. Beginning in the 14th century, in the northeastern region of Spain, cattle farmers taking their bulls to market would hurry the herd along by running ahead of them making noise and challenging the bulls. The herding then became a competition between the men to see who could do it the best. So began the Running of the Bulls. Ernest Hemmingway made the event famous in his 1926 novel “The Sun Also Rises.”
In Pamplona, Spain and in other areas of the world, the bulls are real and the goring causes death and maiming. Here in the United States, we have the partying, food, fun and some pseudo bulls—primarily roller derby girls dressed up as bulls, hitting the runners with soft foam-core wiffle ball bats. These are called mock bull runs.
For about nine years, New Orleans has hosted a similar event to the one in Pensacola, complete with Roller Bulls. Seville started their event because with the Spanish heritage and thirst for fun, it seemed fitting. Everyone likes a reason for a street party.
“We got the idea from the local runners’ clubs in Pensacola,” said Buck Mitchell, Seville Quarter’s special events and marketing manager. “A number of the runners had been to the New Orleans mock run and decided to bring it home to Seville.”
“Last year we had about 500 runners who took part in the festivities even in the rain,” said Mitchell. “We are looking forward to this event becoming as big as the McGuire’s St. Patrick’s Day run. We had 30 bulls last year and are looking forward to having about 100 this year. We are always up for a party.”
Injuries, although not very likely, are sometimes a part of this sort of event. Mitchell mentioned that he had a fairly large bruise on his posterior last year.
“We have a good ground swell of interest in the run and all the events surrounding it,” said Jack Williams, Seville’s general manager. “The costumes are a big part of the run. We have awards for the best group costume, best dressed, best horns, and best beat down all judged by secret judges. It is a free run, not really a race, and a lot of fun.”
The bulls in the Pensacola Running of the Bulls are roller derby members from across the region including Pensacola’s own Roller Gurlz, a flat track team with about 34 members, who formed in 2010. Kara Makris, whose derby name is KSMAKher, number 16 is looking forward to this year’s run.
“We are trying to get the word out about the derby groups around the area,” Markris said. “Leagues from all over the place come to join the fun. It is a great event to come out, have a good time and be goofy.”
Having participated in 2011’s Seville Quarter Running of the Bulls, Makris has developed a strategy for attacking this year’s event.
“Well, we start in a corral, someone shoots off a starting shot and runners start to go,” she explained. “At one end of the course, the bulls disperse throughout the crowd. Some bulls are set up as sneak attackers along the route too, which makes it fun. We aren’t allowed to hit certain zones of the runners. It is really comical, and some of the runners want to get whacked.”
Her favorite part of the run is the detailed costumes the runners and the bulls create. “We have horns on our helmets,” she said. “All the runners are dressed up in white and red. Each bull can decorate their horns, last year we had some wire horns decorated with flowers, some spiral horns and mine were all glitter. At the after party, we give away awards to our bulls, horniest bull, sexiest bull, most creative bull, etc. We love the reaction from the crowd.”
The Running of the Bulls involves three days of events sure to entertain. It all kicks off Thursday, July 19 with a Spanish inspired wine pairing dinner, prepared by Seville Quarter’s Executive Chef, Brandon Melton. It will be a five-course meal. The cost for the event is $55 per person (gratuity and tax are not included). Reservations are required.
On Friday, July 20 during Gallery night, there will be live entertainment, food and beverages. Stick around for a procession honoring San Fermin, the Patron Saint of Pamplona, Spain.
Saturday, July 21 at 8 a.m., you should be in line for the run. At 9 a.m., the first rocket will be set off to alert the runners that the corral gate is open, and a second rocket will signal that the bulls have been released. The third and fourth rockets will signal that all the herds have entered the bullring, marking the end of the run. Then the after party begins with music, food and drinks.
The course starts at Seville Quarter, left on Government Street, South on Jefferson Street, East on Zarragossa and then West on Government, and back to Seville. Finally, yet importantly, runners must adhere to the dress code: Runners are required to wear (any kind) of white shirt, white pants or shorts and wear a red bandana or piece of red cloth around the waist and neck.
There are only five rules for attending the Bull Run: run at your own risk, do not touch the bulls, if you go down—stay down, do not stand still and lastly children under ten (or those that do not want to be hit) use the sidewalk.
WHAT: Seville Quarter’s Running of the Bulls
WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday, July 19 through 9 a.m. Saturday, July 21
WHERE: Seville Quarter, 130 E. Government St.