You never can be too sure of what you’re going to see on the streets of downtown Pensacola. This Gallery Night weekend, the 14th century Spanish festival, Fiesta de San Fermin, is making its way to the Gulf Coast in the form of a two-day celebratory fiesta, brought to you by Seville Quarter. This event will provide yet another creative way to celebrate Pensacola’s Spanish heritage.
The weekend festivities will kick off with a “Chupinazo,” or opening celebration and procession honoring the patron saint of Pamploma, Spain. This portion of the event will occur Friday during Gallery Night at Seville’s End O’the Alley. Seville’s growing involvement in Gallery Night now includes around 50 artists lining the streets selling a variety of works. Throwing the fiesta into the mix will add even more excitement to an already artistic fun-filled evening.
The highlight of this event will take place Saturday with the Running of the Bulls, or “Encierro.” Popularized by Ernest Hemingway in his works “The Sun Also Rises” and “Death in the Afternoon,” this famous Spanish event involves running in front of a group of bulls who have been let loose in sectioned-off town streets.
The Pensacola edition of this event will offer a spin on the original. In this case, the bulls will be on wheels—skates to be exact. Although there will be no actual angry bulls present, Pensacola Roller Gurlz will be yielding Wiffle bats, along with plenty of enthusiasm and attitude. And if they are skating, you might be wondering who is running. That’s right—you are.
As with the traditional and reoccurring annual event in Spain, anyone is welcome to participate. For those who are not out to get hit, the sidewalk is always a viable option, and spectators are also encouraged.
This particular twist of the annual event is set to mirror the event New Orleans hosts starring its own Roller Derby, The Big Easy Rollergirls. Event organizers are inspired by what New Orleans has achieved thus far and feel it makes even more sense for Pensacola to host such an event considering the city’s heritage. The New Orleans event got its start with just a couple hundred runners and 30 bulls but has grown rapidly, now totaling 8,000 runners and 60 bulls in its fifth year. Pensacola hopes for something of the same. “The hope is that this ‘semi-life-threatening bullish street chase,’ will
become a destination event that people will want to come be a part of year after year,” shared Buck Mitchell of Seville Quarter.
Event Day Run Down
As far as dress code goes, participants are asked to come decked out in white with a splash of red in the form of bandanas placed around the waste and neck. There will also be some extra red bandanas on hand in case you forget. Although it promises to be only “semi-life-threatening,” there are a few simple rules to keep the risk level in check. These five simple rules are: Run at your own risk; Do not touch the bulls; If you go down, stay down; and do not stand still; and children under 10 (or those who don’t want to be hit) use the sidewalk.
All participating runners are asked to begin gathering at Seville Quarter around 4 p.m. on Saturday. The procession of the bulls is scheduled to commence at 5:25 p.m., and at 5:30 p.m., these bulls on wheels will be signaled for release and the run will be underway. Following the run, the celebration will continue well into the night like a true Spanish party. This after party will take place back at Seville Quarter Party Plaza and promises more good times, a flood of food, music and sangria margaritas. There will be giveaways and awards presented for best-dressed runner, best beat down award for both bull and runner, and more. “If we hit a home run this year, great! The goal is for this to be another fun Saturday afternoon event in Pensacola and an event to continue year after year,” said Mitchell.
Although no RSVP is required, feel free to RSVP to the “Inaugural Encierro (Running of the Bulls)” on Facebook. Create a buzz, and grab your friends to join suit. In the words of the New Orleans organizers NOLA Bulls, “At this point you might be asking yourself ‘Why?’, to which we can only respond, ‘¿Por qué no?’
FIESTA DE SAN FERMIN EN PENSACOLA
WHEN: Friday-Saturday, July 15-16
WHERE: Seville Quarter, 130 E. Government St.
DETAILS: 434-6211 or facebook.com/sevillequarter