Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Chestnut Fair

Each year in Arriondas there is a large fiesta and fair to celebrate the chestnut harvest, vegetable produce and crafts. Running along side the chestnut fair is a two-day furniture and wood exhibition where local craftsmen and women exhibit their crafts and demonstrate their skills. We had a stall for chair seating restoration where I demonstrated Bergére cane work (under the watchful eye of Luis of course!) and Luis demonstrated rush work. We also took along various antique chairs that we had previously restored to sell. The weather this year was appalling with torrential rain and storm like winds, this resulted in fewer people coming along than previous years but never-the-less, many people did brave the storms and came along to see what was happening. We had a really productive fair making many contacts for future restoration work and we managed to sell a few chairs as well despite the downturn in the economy. The chair seating demonstration always attracts a crowd as it is a craft that has been lost over the past 3 or 4 generations. Many older visitors are thrilled to see us at work as they remember their fathers and grandfathers doing similar work. My dread is always being asked a load of questions that I am unable to either understand or reply to. Luckily I have a few stock phrases I can resort to otherwise it is over to Luis to answer the more detailed questions. The other artisans at the fair included wood carvers (a big tradition of woodcarving here in Asturias), furniture restorers, model makers and furniture makers. This year we took along a collection box for the Donkey Sanctuary we are involved with and made a point of asking for a donation if the visitors wanted to take a picture of us at work. Other aspects of the chestnut fair included exhibition of chestnuts and garden produce (I never realised there were so many different varieties of chestnuts), general crafts, cheeses, traditional Asturian games and dancing, music and drinking. All in all, despite the weather everyone had a great time. Nigel from the Hotel Posada del Valle has written a great overview of the fair on his blog which is worth reading. We are already booked for next years fair.

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