Spain festival twins bullfights with food fights

Thu Jul 7, 2011 3:17pm EDT
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By Martin Roberts

PAMPLONA, Spain (Reuters) - Spain's world famous annual San Fermin festival may have bullfighting as its centerpiece but the carnival atmosphere also lures unorthodox fans given to food fights, singing and dressing up.

The festival captivated Nobel Prize-winning novelist Ernest Hemingway when he first came to visit in 1923 and inspired him to write "The Sun Also Rises," the book which made a name for him and the northern town of Pamplona and drawn tourists here from around the world ever since.

The traditional running of the bulls got under way on Thursday morning without any of the gorings which usually mark the week-long celebrations.

In the afternoon, local fan clubs known as "penas" packed the cheap seats on the sunny side of the bullring.

Many will spend much of their time with their backs to the three bullfighters who will challenge six bulls in the course of an afternoon.

They also fill the stadium with music so deafening many reputable bullfighters decline to come to Pamplona and fans in the more expensive shaded seats argue over the noise.

"Here the bullfighter has two opponents, the bull and the racket," said Antonio de Miguel.

Near neighbor Angel de la Cruz disagreed.   Continued...

<p>A wild cow chases runners at the bullring following the first running of the bulls of the San Fermin festival in Pamplona July 7, 2011. REUTERS/Vincent West</p>