What do Pamplona, Spain, and Rutland County, Vt., have in common? Not much. But they are both college towns, both have histories connected with agriculture and light industry, and now they both have running of the bulls events-sort of.
Pamplona is known for its Festival of San Fermin named after the third-century A.D. Roman convert Saint Fermin who was martyred at Amiens, France. There is a mysterious holy well of an otherwise unknown "Saint Farmin" at Bowes, Yorkshire, England. The existence of a monastery named after the saint attracted pilgrims to its well but pilgrimages there ended in 1298.
Now Poultney will be known for its somewhat light-hearted, politicized version of the festival-the Festival of San Farmin' will begin at 11:30 a.m. on April 25. This first annual event, a collaboration between Green Mountain College and the Town of Poultney, uses humor, performance art, with a decidely liberal eco-activist spirit.
"We've named it the Festival of San Farmin' because it is a tribute to the contribution of farming and farmers to Vermont's personality," said student organizer Benjamin Atkinson. "It will be an annual spring event in Poultney on the Saturday following Earth Day. The Running of the Bulls event is our commentary on the environment, with the 'bulls' representing inefficient fossil-fueled vehicles and the 'runners' representing the human casualties of global warming."
The running of the bulls was first popularized in America by writer Enrest Hemingway in his novel "The Sun Also Rises".
Poultney area groups including the Rutland Food and Farm Food Link, Green Mountain College's Club Activism, the college's student assembly, the Poultney Chamber of Commerce, The Poultney School, and the Slow Food Chapter of Green Mountain College are participating in the event.
At 11:30 a.m. the running of the bulls kicks off with an opening procession issuing from the front gate of the College and proceeding down Main Street. The procession will feature larger-than-life puppets, costumes, animals, drummers and dancers, with a statue of St. Francis, patron saint of animals and ecology, carried in a place of honor.
Immediately following the opening procession, The Running of the Bulls will begin. Six "bulls" (bicycles designed as bulls) will be released to pursue the brave human runners down Main Street to the finish through the college's Main Gate, culminating in a bull fight between a matador and one of the bulls. The organizers stress, however, that no animals will be harmed in any way during these festivities, and the whole day is family appropriate.
At 1 p.m. the music will begin. The music kick-off will be "Singin' the Blues for a Green Planet," a special performance by the Memphis-born Sandra Wright and her Blues Band on the GMC campus. The band has performed at high profile venues like the Toronto Soul & Blues Festival, Ben & Jerry's One World Festival, and the DuMaurier Jazz Festival in Halifax, N.S. Sandra Wright's performance will be followed by several local bands throughout the afternoon.
Runners will assemble by noon at the intersection of Main Street and Route 30, and each runner will be provided with required attire: a green waist sash a green kerchief. For more information or to volunteer as a runner, contact Atkinson at email@example.com.