AUGUST was general holiday time in Portugal and the Alentejo and for those who don’t get away, many of the villages featured quite a number of events.

The local council (Camara) appear to fund these to a great extent and no-one misses out.

Event number one was held in Silves, which is a large town, for our neck of the woods anyway, to the South which boasts a most imposing Moorish fort on the hilltop and a large church overlooking the town below.

This year’s featured attraction was a large medieval market and fair. This event was epic, featuring hundreds of stalls all along the streets around the town and up to the fort and nightly events and demonstrations.

It’s similar in mood and feel to the Facal we visited in June, but all the stallholders and quite a number of the locals dress up in medieval and traditional costumes for the event.

The fair has a great atmosphere of fun and there’s plenty of food and drinks to replenish the energies of the footsloggers! There are different sorts of music from bands to flute players, guitarists etc. The picture shows a Steeleye Span tribute band playing on the church steps – or was it The Worzels on tour!

Another village just at the back of us is Santa Clara-a-Nova. This is relatively new and was built to re-house the residents of the old Santa Clara village because now that area is Santa Clara lake, which besides being a local beauty/fun spot is a feeder reservoir for The Algarve and the ever-growing demand for water there!

 Santa Clara-a-Nova had a festa tradicional, which featured such ‘traditional’ events as a snooker tournament (this was actually a pool tournament – presumably the snooker table had shrunk in the waters of Santa Clara lake!), Karaoke and football matches. There was also a miniature bull-running event for the kids in a small arena, using a rather small and disinterested bullock. The kids jumped in and ran to the other side while the animal looked bored to tears!

The funniest aspect of the event was the timings for the events listed on the leaflets. If anyone knows the elasticity of event timings in The Alentejo, when a time is stated, but not in which country (China, USA, Australia) it might have coincided with, would have to laugh at the agenda for Sunday, August 10:

14:03 – Snooker marathon; 18:02 – Futebol match; 20:01 – Atletismo race; 22.01 - Karaoke.

I can only imagine the organiser had received a new digital watch for his birthday!

Our nearest village, Gomes Aires, had similar fun and games. Gomes is so small and, er, basic. They can’t afford the horse to make it a one horse town, so maybe they could borrow one of ours. They had a medieval fair for a month and no-one noticed the difference!

Another cautionary tale came from our neighbours, Tor and Marta (Norwegian) who went to a local baile (folk dance) after one of the events, bought a raffle ticket, as you do, and won 1st prize – a pig! Now I don’t know how they got it home but I do know it’s laid in their freezer, whole, while Marta reads up on butchery and carving!

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