September 2010

San Mateo fiestas, Logroño, La Rioja

Friday September 24th, 2010 04:37 PM

San Mateo, Logroño, La Rioja, España

One of the great attractions of San Mateo – the week-long festival taking place in Logroño, the capital of La Rioja, these days – are the weird and wonderful events put on by local clubs.

No one in the tourist information office could tell me what Tirada a la Rana (literally: Throw at the frog) consisted of. It was, it turned out when I found my way to a nearby street, a variation on a well-loved and global fairground activity testing people’s chucking prowess. In this case the local club, Peña La Unión, was challenging people to lob small disks into the mouth of a metal frog. Each competitor had 10 throws. Few managed to score a direct hit.

In Logroño’s old quarter, many stands had a gastronomic delicacy at heart. A club with connections to neighbouring Navarra were offering chistorra (a type of sausage) hot dogs and a glass of wine. Not far away Peña Rondalosa was busy barbecuing hundreds of sardines served on bread with a glass of wine. And beside the cathedral was the Federation of Peñas offering stuffed red peppers… with a small bottle of wine. Notice the trend here?

Aside from these stalls a staple of many La Rioja festivals, giants and “cabezudos” (big heads) were winding and twirling their way through the city’s streets. The giants are big but relatively harmless. The cabezudos, however, have a not entirely agreeable habit of sneeking up on the unsuspecting and giving them a whack with a large club. No one, young or old, appears to be immune from their attentions. In their wake many parents are left comforting petrified small children. But all in the best possible taste, of course.

San Mateo, Logroño, La Rioja, España

San Mateo, Logroño, La Rioja, España

San Mateo, Logroño, La Rioja, España

San Mateo, Logroño, La Rioja, España

San Mateo, Logroño, La Rioja, España

San Mateo, Logroño, La Rioja, España

San Mateo, Logroño, La Rioja, España

San Mateo, Logroño, La Rioja, España

Clay pigeon shooting competition, Ezcaray, La Rioja

Monday September 20th, 2010 09:50 AM

Torneo de Tiro al Plato, Ezcaray, La RiojaThe landscape may still look parched after the dry summer but the nights are getting longer, the mornings cooler and the swallows have gone. And with the changing season, the crack of far off gunfire from the hills has returned. The hunting season is underway.

Fowl shooting began the middle of last month and the deer season will get going next month. In the mean time, dozens of game sport enthusiasts met in Ezcaray, La Rioja, last weekend for a clay pigeon shooting competition.

The competition attracted some serious hands who turned up in kit embroidered with their names and autographed weapons. But most of those taking part borrowed a gun and stood in line in their t-shirts, shorts and trainers while waiting to have a crack at the 20 targets.

Some hit almost all; a few hardly any. But what was really noticeable was how competitive and emotional almost everybody became.

Torneo de Tiro al Plato, Ezcaray, La Rioja

Torneo de Tiro al Plato

Torneo de Tiro al Plato, Ezcaray, La Rioja

Torneo de Tiro al Plato, Ezcaray, La Rioja

Torneo de Tiro al Plato, Ezcaray, La Rioja

Torneo de Tiro al Plato, Ezcaray, La Rioja