Thanks to the Hemingway novel and the Tyrone Power film, everyone seems to either want to run with the bulls or at least watch the same. Tourists to Madrid are often disappointed to learn they have come at the wrong time of the year and the closest they will get to the famed festivity is by buying a postcard from a gift shop.
First off, the most famed running of the bulls takes place at the Feria de San Fermin in Pamplona, which is far north of Madrid and not even close. Oh, it is
What many tourists do not realize is a number of smaller towns also hold their own bull runs or amateur festivals, but these are not as well-known because no one ever bothered to make a film out of them.
People die in these festivities too! It doesn’t happen every year, but people do get killed and this tally neglects to mention the non-fatal gorings that happen every year.
In Pamplona the run is only part of the daily bullfighting routine, for these animals are ushered into the bullring and into the corral, where they await their official usage in the scheduled bullfights
Usually, the finest matadores in Spain and occasionally from visiting countries are booked for the official corridas. The 2012 carteles, for example, contracted Juli, Eduardo Gallo, Joselillo, Ferrera and other top names.
In the past several decades, other toreros who have triumphed in Pamplona include Francisco Ruiz Miguel, Paquirri, Jose Tomas, Sebastian Castella, Morante, Jaime Ostos, Juli, Manolete, Luis Miguel Dominguin, Juan Belmonte, Nino De La Capea, Litri, Julio Aparicio, Paco Camino, El Viti, Miguelin, Bienvenida, Antonete and Marcial Lalanda.
The Pedro Romero character utilized in Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises (also released in Europe as Fiesta) was based on a real matador from the 1930s known as Nino De La Palma, Aside from being a talented torero in his own right, he fathered various matador sons who became stars, the most notable being Antonio Ordonez.
San Fermin offers other activities aside from bullfighting too, such as concerts, street plays, marching bands, parades and no small amount of wine consumption.
San Fermin can be fun, but it can also be deadly.
For those making the run, remember that wine goes good with a bullfight, perhaps, when sitting in the stands, but not when you are in front of one of the live creatures, a few feet away.