20th Requena Sauasage Fair.Now in its Disaster of a New Home!


Sausage Fair!

Sausage Fair!

 

It is with a somewhat heavy heart this morning that I write about the Requena sausage Fair. For most of the last eight years the early highlight   has been the trip to Requena for the first of the years food fairs. The Muestra de Embutidos, in its 20th anniversary edition has this year moved into the newly built Recinto Ferial.

The fair has traditionally been one of the most important in the region and is run by the CRIGP, the governing body for the sausage industry of Requena which is its own  geographically protected trademark, just like Champagne, Melton Mowbray pies etc. It is heavily supported by the Valencian Government and the embutidos, the longanizas, the morcillas and chorizos, the perro and sobrasadas and the güenos and orzas are all made to strict recipes and quality control are all made from pigs grown and raised around Requena and sold by the nine butchers who are part of the organisation.

Past Pig Roast.

Past Pig Roast.

In the past the fair has been held in the Avenida Arrabal, Requena´s wide boulevard, around the Monument to the Vendimia. Several large marquees have held respectively the sausage producers, the Housewives association, the Panaderia association a coffee stall, cheesemaker and the occasional bodega which has provided the wine to wash your food down with. a further marquee held the tourist organisations such as the ruta-vino whilst in earlier editions of the fair there were pig roasts as well in the open air.

The fair always runs the risk of the vagaries of the weather, in some years we have driven up in the snow, in others it has been sunny but with bitterly cold winds. But whichever it was the fair had an atmosphere, everyone wrapped up against the weather, polite queues at busy times for the rations of sausages or wine, most of all there was space.

The fair has evolved…..as the crisis deepened the pig-roasts, which were provided by local restaurants, have been withdrawn. Last year and this the traditional exhibitors have been joined by more of the local bodegas giving a wider choice of wine to drink and this year the cofradia de arroz were absent but alternative meals were provided by the Cheste college cookery school.

At some point in the past ambition has called for the  sausage fair and Ferevin, which brings together the local bodegas and runs the August wine fair , to share a new site. The new Recinto Ferial, has been some time in the planning. A shiny new building on the edge of town, next to the fairground  has finally opened.

Inside the New Feria.

Inside the New Feria.

Sadly it has about as much atmosphere as an airport terminal on a strike day. Soaring several stories high, long and thin, the exhibitors and the crowd were shoe-horned into this new `cathedral´ which initially looked clean and bright. There were plenty of large tables where the public could lay out their plates of sausages, bollo etc and their bottles and glasses of wine.

But that is all that was good that you could say about it. As the crowd swelled it quickly became obvious that there is insufficient space. The exhibitors were housed in generally over generous space for the number of staff they employed to dispense their products. (One exception being the cookery school.)  The space between these areas and the tables down the centre left insufficient space for those who were eating and those who were queuing to exchange their tickets for food or wine to avoid a good buffeting by those trying to pass through the complex.

Airline style queuing tapes were abandoned causing deeper chaos as the public did not know which to join  queue for rations of food or bulk purchases to take home, causing health and safety hazards as they blocked the passages and all of this was exacerbated by displays of rhythmic gymnastics by local kids forcing the crowd to the edge and `traffic´to come to a total standstill. I totally understand why the town would want to exploit its new facility to the full but between 1pm and 4pm much of the facility was in gridlock.

Ajoarriero and Mortuerelo.

Ajoarriero and Mortuerelo.

Far from having a good time, not one visitor I spoke to whether they were from Valencia city, further afield or International tourists were enjoying it. `Desastre total´and `desgracia´were the most common comments I was hearing many of them saying they would not return again. Nor were many pleased by the local Police who maintained the local car-park closed and re-directed the public to non-existent car parks elsewhere whilst the police helicopter circled the building continuously!

Fortunately there was a camaraderie in the chaos. Which is just as well for the exhibitors. The Amas de Casa were providing platefuls of ajoarriero and mortuerela, the bollos from the Association of breadmakers and huge loaves of bread were being wheeled in and sold off either whole or in portions with clockwork regularity and the bodegas did a stirling job dispensing excellent wines….especially Coviñas. Latorre, La Madroñera, Cuevas and Aluvion.

Liquor from Bodegas Cuevas.

Liquor from Bodegas Cuevas.

Nor should Nacho´s cheeses from Les Pedrones be forgotten, plates of artisan cheese from his local flock of  and goats served with bread and olive oil.

Fortunately more than one bodega owner also expressed a view that the layout was totally wrong…..especially as the August Wine fair which is due to use the venue is much bigger and attracts bigger crowds.

What a shame that a successful event was brought down by  a bad venue with masses of waste space and no room for expansion….unless you move outside. Maybe that is the answer…..here begins the Campaign to Restore the Fair to the Avenida Arrabal!

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Comments

  • Lucy Valantine  On February 10, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    Really enjoy reading your blog! Would love to know about these events beforehand so that I can go, maybe there´s a chance you can mention them in advance on your blog?

  • Tim  On February 10, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    I do hope they will not be holding the August Ferevin wine festival here! Might well put me off going…

    • rikiwigley  On February 10, 2013 at 7:42 pm

      That is the plan Tim. They have permission to extend outside but I cannot see it working if the stands are the same size. Fortunately, bodegas need less room!

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