San Fermin en Nueva Orleans (Running of the Bulls)
July 11-14, 2013
Ole! Ole! It's that time of year again. Time for the 7th annual reenactment of the Encierro: the Running of the Bulls through the streets of downtown New Orleans.
Held every year in mid-July to coincide with the San Fermin en Nueva Orleans Festival and the bull run in Pamplona, Spain, this fun event is not as dramatic as its Spanish counterpart, but it's not as dangerous, either. The "bulls" are none other than the young ladies from the New Orleans-based all-female flat-track derby team, the Big Easy Rollergirls, plus participants from other roller derby leagues across the country. They won't "gore" you with the horns on their helmets (they're only plastic) but they could whack you from behind with their foam-core wiffle ball bats if you're too slow!
These "RollerBulls" generously give the runners a head start but then, as they catch up with the slowest of the pack, they are allowed to whack them. Some participants even consider it an honor to be "gored" by these "bulls." They allow themselves to get whacked several times and no one has ever been hospitalized. It's all in good fun, taking the famous New Orleans saying "Let the good times roll" to its literal extreme. And, in typical New Orleans fashion, it begins with a party and ends with a party!
New to the festival this year is a 1-Mile Dash and Fun Run that precedes the Encierro on the morning of Saturday, July 13. Cash prizes ranging from $300-$50 in the men's and women's categories will be awarded to the first through third place winners. Also new in recent years is the optional Marques de Caceres Wine Dinner at the Bourbon Orleans Hotel Grand Ballroom on Thursday, July 11. To purchase tickets click here: www.neworleanshotelcollection.com/san-fermin-in-new-orleans/
The festival officially kicks off on Friday, July 12 with the El Txupinazo party at the Sugar Mill, 1021 Convention Center Boulevard, in the Warehouse Arts District, directly across from the New Orleans Convention Center and easy walking distance from downtown and the French Quarter. The festivities run from 5:00-9:00 p.m. and feature live music and deejays, performances from local dance troupes, a roller derby demo and food and beverages. This event is free and open to the public.
Those who plan on taking part in the run and the rest of the festivities must be registered ahead of time. There is fee schedule for those who plan to participate in the event, depending upon the preferred level of participation. VIP-Adult passes are $65, VIP-Under 21 is $25, Patron is $20, Corredor (bullfighter) is $10 and there is a $5 processing fee. Click here for a complete explanation of what the fee schedules include: www.active.com/running/new-orleans-la/san-fermin-in-nueva-orleans-2013.
Registration closing date is July 10 at 11:59 p.m.
Runners who have opted to take part in the 1-mile dash and have paid the entry fee, can start gathering on event day as early as 6:30 a.m. July 13, at the Sugar Mill. The fun run starts at 7:00 and the actual Running of the Bulls takes off at 8:00.
Runners in the "Encierro" must wear either a white shirt or white pants and have a red scarf or long red cloth tied around their waists and necks. Of course, this being New Orleans, many of the participants take it even further, showing up in clever and imaginative costumes, especially as matadors and bulls.
Trailing along behind the Roller Bulls will be the "Rolling Elvii," Elvis look-alikes riding on Segways.
The party continues after the run on the grounds of the Sugar Mill, with more live music, deejays, The Reverend Psych Ward, food and beverages and much more. Registration is required for entry onto the festival grounds.
Those who just wish to watch the run are advised to stake out their places on the sidewalks along the route well ahead of time. This is a very popular event that grows every year and good viewing positions may well be at a premium come race time. Last year's Encierro drew 14,000 participants and spectators and between 350 and 400 "bulls."
This year's route has not been finalized. Check back on this site later or consult local listings for more details.
Two other events connected to the San Fermin Festival – both of which are free and open to the public – take place on Saturday evening and Sunday morning, July 13-14. They are the Fiesta de Pantalones (Pants Feast) on Saturday night and El Pobre de Mi (Poor Me), both at The Maison. The Saturday night event features live entertainment and cocktails, and the Sunday morning event offers readings from the works of Ernest Hemingway, whose novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls, popularized worldwide interest in the Pamplona Running of the Bulls. There will also be a Hemingway look-alike contest, an original skit contest, and tapas, along with Spanish specialty drinks.
For further information on all of the San Fermin Festival events, price ranges, guidelines and other details, go to the group's website www.nolabulls.com. You can read more about them on Facebook and Twitter as well.