Monday, 12 November 2007

Fira de Novembre starting to grow on me

Vilanova is a relatively unimportant satellite in the gravitation field of Barcelona. Currently we go through an especially difficult period, since communications with the metropolitan area are heavily disturbed. One way to remain optimistic about the future of our town is to change the perspective and a look at what it has to offer in itself. This weekend, the Fira de Novembre was literally impossible to avoid.

I have always liked exhibitions as a chance for a company to present its products to people who have not yet heard of it. Still, I have had difficulties to appreciate earlier versions of Vilanova’s multi-sectoral outdoor exhibition Fira de Novembre since I never understood who was the target group. My four-year-old son was the first person to start to change my perception of this annual event. Cars make up a dominating part of the fair since physically they take up a lot of space. For people with pushchairs, pavements here are often too narrow and normally the Rambla is one of the few areas where you can move freely. During the fira, however, walking there feels like slalom skiing between cars and people. I tried to find alternative routes in the small streets but then my oldest son firmly stopped me from doing so. To him, the Rambla turned car showroom was nothing but an adventure.

This week’s issue of Diari de Vilanova made my feelings for the fair develop further. In an interesting interview with Josep-Tomàs Álvaro, our Councillor of Local Development, did I first get a background to the big number of car dealers – they replace the agricultural machines which historically used to be presented here. Except for that I learnt that what our ajuntament tries to reinforce, is not the very disparate commercial side of the Fira de Novembre, but rather the popular and festive aspects.

So Saturday November 10, I tried to keep an open mind while exploring the different stands. To say that I liked a lot of what I saw would be to lie, but finally have I learnt to accept that that is not the point. By definition, in a fair of this kind you will have to look for your own favourite spots. I found at least three worth mentioning.

I liked to learn about restaurants where I have not been yet and it is to be regretted that so few local restaurants see a value in promoting themselves during the fair. Even more did I like the estand municipal presenting photos of the town’s latest developments projects, although I found it quite deceitful to include pictures of the Teatre Prinicpal. Those should be reserved for 2009 when, apparently, it might finally start to look decent not only from selected angles. Finally and most of all did I appreciate the atmosphere in Plaça d’Enric Cristòfol Ricart where organisations of the town had a chance to present their activities. I was very impressed by the precision and energy of taekwondo club Chois Vilanova as well as the thought through performance by Flow-Center, but also with the big number of Vilanovins who had turned up to watch.

Since the terraces on the Rambla were closed to give space for the cars, what I truly missed was a chance to sit down to let the children have a snack without leaving the fair. My vision would be to have a tent with a food court where people can shop around in different stands but then sit down and eat in a common area; a chance to be together and explore new things at the same time. That ought to be in line with the ajuntament’s festive objectives for the event. Our Fira de Novembre might never be interesting enough to attract big groups of outsiders to come here, but I think that it already helps to foster a unique Vilanova spirit. That is good enough.

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