This year in September was my second visit to the Feria de Zafra, roughly five hours from Madrid. This is a huge gathering of all things countryside and partying - a slightly strange combination but one that works surprisingly well. Every year thousands of interested and enthusiastic members of the agricultural community in the very rural Extremadura come to Zafra to see new developments in farming technology and to enjoy the gathering.
One of my favourite parts of the experience is the animal sections of the 'feria'. Rows and rows of horses, cows, bulls, goats, sheep and birds are on show, and walking around these carefully prepared and groomed animals can take hours on its own.
A reverence for high quality animals that goes beyond mere practicality
Whatever the reputation for animal cruelty and low regard for animal living conditions that the Spanish sometimes face, it is not in evidence at this gathering in Zafra. The beautiful condition of the immaculately groomed animals is very clear, as is the importance that these animals have in the local community. Horses top this list of care and importance, and the line to walk up and down the horse paddock is long but patient.
Another key part to the 'feria' is the hundreds of food stalls that are in every available free space between rides, animal stalls and indoor discos. Traditional Spanish 'tapas' and 'raciones' (larger plates of food) can be easily found, as well as the typical burgers and hotdogs, and more or less everything in between. Huge party tents are erected just for the few days of the event, and from early in the morning, loud and energetic music is booming out from several of them. These parties usually include amazing dancers who lead the crowds in fun and easy routines. Free drinks vouchers and the typical low Spanish prices, mean these party tents are a great way to see the always-ready-to-party Spanish temperament.
The stunning city of Caceres is the perfect base for this trip, and the Feria de Zafra is only 100km away from the UNESCO Heritage site that is medieval Caceres, so I would suggest staying here and then venturing out into the countryside.
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