Internacional Feria de los Pueblos
As a result of a surprise email from our good friend Tom McDaid round the middle of February 2008, he asked us if we would be interested in talking part in the Feria de Los Pueblos in Fuengirola Spain, a festival over 4 days with over 30 countries of the world taking part, after a few phone calls and committee meetings the decision was taking to accept this fantastic opportunity to represent Scotland at this amazing event.
This invitation to take part came from Tim & Heather Jackson who run the Business Advice and Support Centre in Fuengirola, who are the official organiser for the British Caseta, Tom had put us in touch with Tim and Heather regarding the Feria, we met Tom at the El Douglas Festival in Teba Spain last year and we have kept in regular contact as we have a mutual interest in the good Sir James Douglas (Black Douglas) and all things to do with King Robert the Bruce.
King Robert the Bruce lived and died in our village and Sir James Douglas left with the Kings heart from Renton to go to Jerusalem but was killed at Teba helping Alfonso the Great.
Strathleven Artizans had the honour of putting the wheels in motion for the Scottish connections for this event, and after many phone calls, meetings the final line up was Clann an Drumma, 8 highland Dancers (Stornoway lassies (4) and Celtic Storm (4)) and 9 Artizans a total of 23 people had the honour of representing our Country at this prestige’s event
14 people flew out from Glasgow on the (1st May) Thursday morning arriving in Malaga airport at around 10.45am, 3 of the guys flew in on the Friday flight and the band went by road arriving on the Wednesday lunch time. After booking into our hotel we got changed and made our way to the showground where they were holding the Feria, the band where already there and playing to the ever increasing crowd, the Feria was jumping by early evening with the Thursday a Holiday in Fuengirola and by night time the place was packed, the atmosphere was electric with over 32 caseta’s , carnival, exhibitions trucks, caravans, motorbikes, garden furniture and a food hall with every kind of food from local barbecue ribs to haggis etc and noise and smell of food from all the different just added to the excitement, the Feria went well into the Friday morning, but as all of us who arrive on the Thursday had been up since about 3.30am to get our flight we headed back to hotel around 9.00pm for an early night as we had a busy day ahead of us on the Friday.
Friday 2nd May.
The Day started off with a hearty breakfast in the hotel restaurant, then time to get geared up for our first full day in Fuengirola, 4 taxi took us to the showground where made our way to our Caseta, in the Caseta we had a stall along with Tom McDaid to exhibit some of our artefacts etc meanwhile the the band had set up and started their first spot of the day outside our Caseta while the dancers and Philip the piper set up down at the front entrance to the Feria to capture the gathering ground as they entered the Feria, this was to encourage folk to come to the UK Caseta after an hour and a half the band and the dancers swapped places which they did several times during the day, the Artizans where mingling with the crowd getting photos taken with the varies people from other Casetas and the local Spanish and holiday makers.
At 8.00pm on the Friday night they had the opening ceremony in the main hall at the showground, two people from each Country had the privilege and honour of representing their Country at the opening ceremony Karen Owens and Jim Tannock had the honour of representing the UK and carrying the flag and banner on to the main stage which was shown through out the showground, during the opening ceremony they had a choir and dancing etc playing to a packed hall.
Meanwhile back at the UK Caseta the atmosphere was building up for the main event of the night which was Clann An Drumma, the gathering crowd of local Spanish as well as people from other Caseta’s had the UK Caseta packed (standing room only) to see this band perform their final set of the day.
Clann An Drumma where on in the Caseta at 10.00pm the place was jumping with people in anticipation of them starting their set and boy they did not disappoint they just got better and better they took the roof off the place they were pure magic, this bunch of guys had played through out the whole day they are without a doubt the best and hard working band I have seen, they did the Feria, Scotland and themselves PROUD and on behalf of the Strathleven Artizans Would like to thank them for all the hard work and time spent before, during and after the Feria Thanks Guys.
We then headed back to our hotel around 2.00 am exhausted and ready for our beds to end an amazing day BRILLIANT.
Saturday 3rd May.
The Big Parade.
We all managed to make breakfast in the morning and we were still buzzing from the night before, after we got changed and ready for the big Parade in Fuengirola we all assembled outside the hotel at 10.30 and our taxi’s took us to the other side of Fuengirola to the start of the Parade it was a beautiful warm day with plenty of photo’s being taking with the local’s, holiday makers and the other Countries taking part.
The Parade went through the main thoroughfare of Fuengirola a distance of about approx 2-3 miles and taking about 2 hours to complete, the reception from the locals was fantastic especially when the parade stopped at varies points along the route and our Highland Dancers and Philip the Piper did their stuff, the crowd couldn’t get enough of them and also getting a chance to get photos taking with our guys in full Highland dress (Artizans), the end of the Parade saw us at the entrance to the showground where a area was cleared so that each Country had a 5 minute set to perform a dance, sing or play the instruments of their Country.
Each Country had a fantastic reception from the very large crowd that had gathered to see this amazing site of all the Countries that took part in the Parade, waiting for us at the gate was Clann An Drumma.
Then it was our turn to entertain the crowd Philip started off with the Pipes, then the Stornoway lassies danced, then Celtic Storm danced, then Clann An Drumma had the place buzzing with another great set when Celtic Storm joined in with their very own brand of medieval style of dancing which was fantastic to watch the rest of the UK contingent and the Strathleven Artizans had formed a circle around the perimeter to add to the line up, it was a quick 5 minutes and the crowd went wild at the end it was a brilliant feeling for everyone involved.
Once everyone had done their turn they all headed back to their own Casetas for some well earned food and drink and a well earned rest.
Clann An Drumma continued to play thru out the day and night, their last spot of the day was at 2.00AM so it was all very long day for the band who once again did themselves proud, Celtic Storm and the Stornoway lasses performed several times thru out the day and night with the band, the Artizans mingled with the crowd again getting photos taken folk trying their swords asking about our weapons etc every body had a great time thru out the day and night.
Sunday 4th May.
Cultural visit to Teba
Another early rise for breakfast we all had a day of leisure, with 9 of the Artizans going on a day trip to Teba organised by Tom McDaid with his Black Douglas Tours, we left our hotel around 10.00am the trip to Teba took about an hour and a half taking the scenic route via Alora, El Chorro to Teba it is a beautiful drive up thru the mountains of Andalusia and we would recommend it to anybody who is on holiday in the Costa del Sol to pay a visit to the wonderful town of Teba the final resting place of the Good Sir James Douglas and visit the museum and El Douglas Square in the heart of the town and of course the magnificent Castle of the Stars ( Castillo de la Estrella)
The main reason for this visit to Teba was to present to the museum and the people/town of Teba with a Spanish sword from the battle of Glen Sheil which was donated to Strathleven Artizans by our historian Stuart Smith as well as some other gifts.
The sword was found in the 1960's by a farmer at the site of the battle of Glen Sheil, where in 1719 a volunteer force of Spaniards joined an army of Jacobite sympathisers, but was crushed by superior government forces. The Spaniards were imprisoned and then returned to Spain. The Spanish inscription on the sword, translates as 'never withdraw me without reason - never return me without honour'. We feel that the soldier threw his weapon aside when he realised they were defeated. The sword will be placed in the museum to the Good Sir James Douglas this is in the museum in the town hall.
Strathleven Artizans where delighted and surprised to receive some gifts from the town of Teba in the shape of a beautiful plaque and a ceramic plaque of the Castle for which we thank them very much.
It is great that the people of Teba and Renton are connecting in this way as we both have this link with King Robert the Bruce and The Good Sir James Douglas with the Kings heart leaving Renton and El Douglas being killed in Teba.
While laying a wreath and having photos taking at the Douglas monument in the town the owner of the pub came out to see what was happening we had met a few of the guys from a previous visit he disappeared for 5 minutes and on his returned he was wearing his kilt which had a few of the guys in knots, Pedro(the owner) then took the guys into his pub where behind the bar is a 8x4 size Saltire that one of the Artizans gave him on a previous visit pure brilliant is the wee man, once out side he then started to bring out tables and chairs were we where seated he then brings out beer and cold drinks and THEN brings out food for the whole party, we all had a ball and a lovely siesta.
As a token of our appreciation one of the Artizans Graham Kemsley gave Pedro his Skian Dbuh much so his surprise and delight and some new friends were made.
It was then time to visit Castillo de la Estrella (castle of the Star), the view looking up to the castle is magnificent, the view from the castle is awesome this was some of the guys first visit and they where blowing away, everybody went for a wonder round by themselves to take in this wonderful site and really connect with the place and think about the past and wonder how it must have been in Douglas’s time.
After about an hour taking in the views etc we all gathered in the Castle where one of the Artizans namely Gordon Aitken sang a song he had written about Sir James Douglas called Under the Teba Sky, you could have heard a pin drop this was without doubt the best part of a memorial day and he had a good few of the guys in tears, so well done Gordon, he is now writing a new song for his return visit in September.
On the way out of the Castle we dropped in to see our good friends Mark & Lindsey Comer who own La Calera the beautiful old mill that sits below the Castle and book our accommodation for our next trip out in September for the El Douglas Festival and to say hello, after half an hour we made our way back to Fuengirola, we got dropped off at the Brigadoon pub in time to see Clann An Drumma perform their last set of a very hectic weekend, the band then dropped some of us off at the Caseta where we met the Celtic Storm who spent the day by the pool then at the Caseta listening to the tribute bands that had been playing in the afternoon, we then gathered our artefact and stuff, said our good byes and thanks to Heather & Tim Jackson for first of all inviting us to take part and for looking after us with food and drink so on behalf of Strathleven Artizans I would like to thank Tim and Heather of The Business Advice and Support Centre for everything that they did for the Scottish contingent of the UK Caseta and if you need us again just give us a call.
We then headed back with the girls to our hotel after a quick change of clothes we all headed across the road to the rover’s return pub for a wee party all the guys and girls plus the band where there we where also joined by Tom and Stella McDaid and a great night was had by all on this our last night in the lovely town of Fuengirola.
Monday 5th May
After our last breakfast we all gathered together at the front of the hotel where we said our goodbyes to the guys from Clann An Drumma who where returning home by road the rest of us made our way (about 150 yards) up the road to the Train station to catch the train to Malaga airport this journey took about 35 minutes and the train did get very busy but at one euro twenty this was the cheapest way to get to the airport, after a good flight home we said our goodbyes to the Dancers, then our mini bus took us back to sunny Renton A great time was had by all.
Strathleven Artizans would like to thank all those who took part in this wonderful opportunity to represent our country abroad
Last year this event was attended by over 750,000 people this year official report from the Fuengirola Tourist Board said that this year’s attendance was UP by 40% to 1.2 million people
Thanks to Tim & Heather Jackson
“ “ Stuart Smith Historian
“ “ Tom McDaid
“ “ Clann An Drumma
“ “ Celtic Storm
“ “ Stornoway Lasses
“ “ All the guys from Strathleven Artizans
Yours Jim Tannock
Strathleven Artizans June 2008