Are you going to Za-fa-ra fair…..? (updated Sept 2015)

Some may find it a little strange that I never seem to update this post before I re-issue it every year. The reason for this is very simple: Nothing changes. Sure, the animals will change every year and the events may happen in a slightly different order, but the essence of the Zafra fair remains unchanged; the organisers have a formula that works and you don’t fix something that ain’t broke(n). So rest assured, dear reader, the information contained in this post is as relevant today as it was the first time it was posted.

Enough of the Simon & Garfunkel, already! But, yes, there will parsley, sage, rosemary & thyme – and a whole lot more!
About an hour’s drive south of where we live lies the town of Zafra. Like most Spanish towns and cities, it has many historical buildings and its Parador hotel is quite impressive; set in a castle which was built for the Dukes of Feria in 1437. That isn’t the reason why we visit the town once a year, though. Our motives are more, well, animal-related.
The first week of October sees Zafra celebrate its Feria de San Miguel. It’s been doing so since 1453, when Juan II de Castilla granted it royal status. Zafra has, throughout its history, been the hub of the region for the buying and selling of livestock and has grown, over the years, into the Feria Internacional de Ganadera – one of the largest and significant farming events in Europe.
During the seven day fair, cattle, pigs and all varieties of farm animal are paraded and judged to determine ‘best in show’ in their categories. It’s serious stuff – a prize-winning animal can be a big money-earner for its breeder. Add to that all of the farm equipment for sale and exhibition halls full of gadgets and food from local producers and you’ve got a full and entertaining day out.
The busiest time to visit the fair is over the weekend when, obviously, the majority of people are not at work. It is when all of the parading and judging takes place. The crowds are enormous and the queues to get in (and out) of the town are horrendous. If, like me, you don’t really need to see all of the parading and judging; I’d suggest visiting on the Monday. Sure, a lot of the livestock has gone – back to the farm – but so have the large crowds, which makes wandering around the exhibitions and stalls a much more pleasant experience. There are still plenty of four-legged friends to go and see and, with the whole fair on the wind-down, some bargains to be had from the food exhibitors; they don’t like taking produce back with them and would rather sell it off cheap!.
The recinto ferial (fairground) is huge, but it’s quite easy to find your way around. Parking is free on the industrial estate opposite and it’s little more than a five minute walk to the main entrance. Even on a quiet day, like Monday, the entire place is buzzing with the sounds and smells from the makeshift bars and restaurants.

There are numerous food stalls and bars to ensure that you don’t go hungry (or thirsty) – my favourite is a churro stall which serves chocolate filled churros, with a chocolate coating (no, there aren’t any photos of it, it doesn’t last long enough to get the lens cap off – and besides, I wouldn’t want to smother chocolate all over the camera, now, would I?*).
The animal enclosures are all in one area and, if you can stand the authentic farmyard odours, well worth a visit. Recumbent pigs, screaming (and spitting) goats, shaggy sheep, proud bulls and elegant equines make up the main species represented; some are for sale, others just for show. Most of the horses for sale have gone by the Monday – Phil says that’s a good thing. In this same area is an exhibition hall with all of your shootin’-huntin’-fishin’ needs – if hunting isn’t your thing, I’d give this one a miss as it can be quite distressing to see caged birds and the like.

For those who prefer their horse power without the horse, there is a magnificent display of tractors and farm equipment on show, as well as other agricultural necessities such as fencing and feeders. There is also a few new & used car dealers selling all manner of transport from carriages (yes, as in horse-drawn) to electric cars.


At the outer reaches of this end of the fairground are the (mainly private) casetas which pump out loud music all day long and, one can only assume, are the centre of activity for nightlife during the Feria – let’s not forget that, as well as the farming side of things, Zafra is in full-on party mode!
Heading back towards the main entrance are the food halls. Produce from all over Spain and Portugal can be found here and most of them offer free samples – try before you buy. As well as buying from the local farmers, it’s a great place to pick up delicacies from further afield – last year we got hold of some wild boar chorizo and venison paté from northern Spain and some (wickedly strong) Portuguese cheese.


The market stalls that surround this area are useful for outdoor clothing with many bargains to be had on walking boots and waterproofs. It’s also where you’ll find all the equestrian equipment – Phil doesn’t let me hover around these stalls for too long, in case I start getting ideas about trading in the car for a horse & cart. Thankfully, the layout doesn’t change from year to year and we can now complete our circuit of the fairground in about three hours – it’s advisable to allow at least a whole day if you’ve never been before.
The 2013 Feria ran from the 3rd to the 9th of October.

PS – The 2014 fair will take place from the 2nd to the 8th October.

PPS – The 2015 fair will take place from the 1st to the 7th October.

  • – I (finally) took a photo of the chocolate churro 

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: The content of my blog are the views and observations of the writer and may differ from those of the reader. The writer of this blog is not a travel writer and does not pretend to be one. If you find any of the content to be wrong or inaccurate please advise the writer by posting in the comment section, but remember to be nice! The writer takes no responsibility for your lack of sense of humour. The content of any external links used which may, at any time, change are not the responsibility of the writer of this blog.

About the author – Sue Sharpe lives in the wilds of Extrema­dura which – let’s face it – is probably the best place for her. She (and her partner) grow their own food; keep chickens and other sorts of hippy stuff. She is occasionally allowed out in public to write for travel guides and maintains her own blog about her life & experiences at www.hiddenspain.info/wordpress. Should you ever encounter her while she is on assignment, approach with caution and preferably with a gin & tonic or chocolate!

Photos & text © Sue Sharpe 2015

 

22 thoughts on “Are you going to Za-fa-ra fair…..? (updated Sept 2015)

  1. We went to Zafra a few years ago and loved it. We stayed in a lovely hotel on the bigger of the two plazas. When we arrived they were just setting up for a dance festival in the plaza, so we had a great view of all the goings on 🙂
    I’d love to go back!

  2. Chocolate filled churros? Now that I know they exist, I must find them. The fair sounds like a fun time. Kind of like state fairs here in the U.S. of which I’ve only been to one, I think — the Wisconsin State Fair. The big thing for me were the cream puffs. 🙂

  3. I know, Catherine, Chocolate overdose – It’s the only time I’ve ever see them, though I’m sure that they probably do exist elsewhere (memo to self: get out more!). We used to go to similar events in the UK – County Shows – so, yes, probably very similar to a US State Fair (only smaller, I’d imagine – everything is sooooo much bigger in the USA!) 🙂

  4. OOHH … no wonder you enjoy going to Zafara, this fair sounds like a great day (or two) out.

    I love trying out food from different regions. I must admit, although I’ve had churros many times, I’ve never seen them filled and covered in chocolate – other than by dunking!

    Great photos, Sue.

    • Thanks, Marianne!

      I love the Zafra Fair – I Look forward to it every year!

      The cakes from Portugal are my favourites – they certainly know how to make them over the border 🙂

      In fairness – it’s only half covered in chocolate – which leaves the other half free to dunk in a mug of chocolate 🙂

    • Thanks for stopping by, Jools!
      I’m afraid I can’t resist a pun (good or otherwise)
      I love pigs – there is a saying out here that you can eat every part of a pig except the oink – I want to try the oink! mmmmm, oink burger… 🙂

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  6. A little late, sorry, but just discovered your blog and the post about Zafra, which made me nostalgic as I spent Christmas in Zafra last year with a friend’s family. Actually I had only known the girl for a few months, as we lived together in Seville where I studied, but the Spanish are so open and welcoming! It was a great experience celebrating a truly traditional Spanish Christmas!

    • No need to apologise – there is no horario on this blog!
      I am so glad that you enjoyed staying in Zafra, it is such a lovely town, and you’re right about the people – not only in Zafra – everyone that we have met since we moved to Extremadura have been so friendly and helpful.
      Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  7. We were there on the Sunday and Monday – still plenty of animals to see! Also bought some amazing cheeses and bacalao which Big Man loves. Had’t realsied you lived in this part of Spain 🙂

    • It’s so much quieter on the Monday – Surprised we didn’t bump into each other!
      Now you know where we are – you’ll have to pop in for coffee when you’re next up this way 🙂

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