Real Feria y LVII Fiesta de la Vendimia

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In the town of La Palma del Condado still prevails one of the oldest fairs all over the country. Six centuries precede the fairground of this "onubense" (that belongs to the province of Huelva) town. This was practically when Alfonso X el Sabio conquered the area and the town was constituted as a stable population centre.

In 1398, the king Enrique III de Castilla granted the celebration of a fair in La Palma at the request of the Lady of the borough, Mrs. Elvira de Ayala, during the first two weeks of September. Thanks to the initiative of the then mayor Mr. Manuel Díaz García and a group of collaborators that encouraged the creation of the celebration of the "Fiesta de la Vendimia del Condado" (Harvest fiesta), it was possible in 1961 to join it to this Gran Fair, that still continues. This joining was easy to justify, as the wine and its culture go together in the same roots of the "Tierra Llana de Huelva". We can start with the legendary Tartesos, and include the Arabs that kept it for the raisin consumption. In the Castilian conquest, the vine had an important role in the reforestation, as the plant needed care and attention the whole year. Another powerful reason was, undoubtedly, the enlivened of the Gran Fair.

The region wine-producers approved the decision, as it contributed to the promotion of their wines (in light of its decline and the new buying habits); apart from new wine guarantees of origin. It was thought to be rotating all through the towns of "el Condado", but it was finally La Palma the one who got it and has preserved it gaining the relevance it has nowadays.

The first Harvest feasts were celebrated in two days, and their protocol was constituted by the Floral Games and the Queen's Coronation (on its first day) and by the New Wine Ceremony itself (on the second day). Many poets, chairmen and "pregoneros" (person who makes the opening speech), including people with National Poetry Awards, had made up their appearance on stage. There has also being as many Overseers of Honour as Harvest feasts have been celebrated. Although in the sixties wine producers were the ones who held this Overseer of Honour position, over the years, it has been adopted by different distinguished personalities of the culture, arts and politics scene.

In 1975 these two days combined. Since then, there is only one ritual with the lyrical and the wine parts together in the protocol. This act is divided into the Queen's Coronation, the Designation of the Overseer of Honour, the Benediction to the grapes before the image of "Ntra Sra. De Guía" and its later Offering, the Carrying of the vine's fruit to the press, and finally the New Wine celebration. If we add the Gran Fair to this, we get a Tourist Interest Feast declared as that in 1972, and which become National of Andalusia in 1997.

The commemoration of this feast changes every year, allowing the general protocol to display a new theme

S.A.C.

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