During the year the Island celebrates several local agricultural type shows were they show a few animals dotted around the Island.
The main event though is always held on the first weekend in June in the village of San Andrés. The show is called La Apañada.
This year the weather was unusual, we had clear blue skies and high temperatures, and not the low cloud and swirling mist of most years.
Over the last few years the show ground has gradually expanded and the marque gets bigger by the year. During the two day event, numerous activities take place. The show opens around 1100 on the Saturday with different events and exhibitions well into the evening. Sunday events start earlier with various competitions held before lunch before exhibitions and events all afternoon.
You cannot compare it to the great country shows from the United Kingdom, who probably see more visitors attending in a day, than live on the whole of El Hierro. But one thing that is the same is the enthusiasm of the crowd and the enjoyment they get.
And unlike the UK events entry is free!
There are several places you can enter the show and much depends on which area you have parked. The most popular entry is lined with kiosk after kiosk of local bars and restaurants vying to attract any visitor to eat freshly produced local fayre. The smells wafting through the air are enough to make anyone feel hungry, even if you have just eaten.
On the Plaza near here was a large number of people sheltering under the shade of the trees to enjoy local folk music and dancing. Different local singers and dance groups took part over a few hours.
The large marque which is full of huge variety of stalls and exhibitions was just across the road. I find walking round anti-clockwise is sometime much easier.
You will find agricultural equipment of all shapes and sizes.
Local wine producers, who allow you to taste before buying, Cheese makers, again with free samples.
One of the local town hall districts promoting tourism which included a virtual tour of Frontera.
And numerous local craftsmen and women, all trying to tempt you into parting with your money.
The time flies by and you can easily spend over an hour just wandering around and soaking up the atmosphere.
Back outside there were young children practicing what I can only describe as jousting. They start things very slowly, before trying to go a little faster without hitting themselves on the head. There were squeals of laughter and the odd ouch. The adults are also welcome to try their hand, but be warned you don’t get the small sticks!
The cattle are the first animals you come across tethered under their makeshift roof to keep the sun off them. They come in all shapes sizes and colours. Some like their head scratching, but others seemed a little grumpier.
The old sports centre acts as a huge children’s playground with numerous bouncy castles and different entertainment for the tiny ones. I’ve known some spend all day there with friends whilst the parents take it in turns to keep a watchful eye over them.
Next I came across pen after pen of flocks of sheep and goats.
Many with young offspring wanting to play rather than being kept penned in for a few hours. Buckets of water seem to keep some entertained, but meant the shepherds were busy replenishing them. Again they come in all shapes sizes and colouring.
The Billy goats couldn’t be missed, their aroma being very strong. Some had spectacular horns which they liked to use if any of the unwary visitors got too close.
They have local hunting dogs on display along with a dog, unique to El Hierro, called the “Lobo Herreño” which translates as the Herreño wolf. At first glance many think they are a type of Alsatian. They are used as sheep dogs by the Shepherds for moving their flocks of goats and sheep around the island. After a decline their numbers are once again on the increase.
The local rescue team volunteers also put on a display to show the roles their dogs can play whilst searching for missing people or protecting their owners from danger.
Larger birds of prey are often on display with a chance for you to handle the magnificent creatures. It’s quite intimidating as you get the feeling they are eyeing you up for lunch.
There is always a lot for the older children to take part in. Bola Canarias and boules, both of which involve throwing a larger bowl at a jack, a bit like bowling, except they throw them rather than rolling them along the ground. They had stilts and many other traditional Canary island games. Everyone taking part was enthusiastic and keen to win.
Near the stable block there was a sheep shearing exhibition and as always some of the sheep didn’t seem too happy to cooperate. They must feel better having got rid of their heavy fleeces. Some of the wool was being used inside the marque were a lady was using an old spinning wheel to spin the yarn, before it was made into bags, rugs and the like on a traditional loom. One of the many little traditional cottage industries kept alive on the Island.
At the stables the horses were being prepared for the final of the Canary Island barrel race competition and one made out he wanted to be stroked. Beware of the mischief in his eyes, he’d let you touch him and then try to bite, before looking like he was laughing at the gullible humans.
I found a seat under the canopy ready to watch the race. It involves each rider passing the start line before racing round three strategically placed barrels and back over the finish line as quickly as possible. The fastest took less than 17 seconds! There were Stetsons flying all over the place, but miraculously not one of the riders ran over there hat. Each participant had two attempts.
After a rest they then tried their hand at the pole event.
Exhibitions carriy on well into the evening before people start to drift towards the food area for refreshments and home.
All in all a great days entertainment for all the family with much to see and do, and all for free, and that includes the parking as well! What more could you want.