Thu, Jul 14, 2011 - Page 6 News List

FEATURE: Olive-pit spitting adds to fun at San Fermin


Revelers perform a dance during the traditional Baile de la Alpargata after the seventh running of the bulls at the San Fermin Festival in Pamplona, Spain, yesterday.

Photo: Reuters

Spain’s annual San Fermin Festival is best known for its running of the bulls, but revelers can also take home prizes for spitting an olive pit the farthest or taking the sexiest photo.

More than 35 awards will be dished out during this year’s nine-day fiesta in the northern city of Pamplona, including for the best kiss, drunkest person and most impressive jump from the city’s central Navarreria fountain.

Some prizes carry cash awards, but most let the winner walk away with just a certificate and bragging rights.

About 150 people took part in a contest lasting about three hours on Saturday to determine who could spit an olive stone the furthest.

The competition, held each year since 2006, was won this year for the first time by a foreigner, Australian Matt Davis, who managed to spit an olive pit a distance of 16.36m, about the length of four cars.

“We had to limit the number of participants or else we would run out of olives,” said Antonio Santos, spokesman for the Association of Friends of Olive Trees, which organized the event.

The prize was a weekend at a hotel in the southern city of Cieza where the association is based.

The contest rules outlined the exact type of olives that could be used and specified that “if the olive stone drops on a spectator or passer-by, the spitting will be declared invalid.”

The organizers also recommended that participants who use false teeth “fix them well into place in order to prevent accidents or other dangers.”

Santos said this clause was added because a couple of elderly participants in past contests accidentally spat out their dentures along with the olive pit.

There is a trophy for the best use of a power as part of a rural sports competition.

Other prizes are awarded to the person who looks best in white pants and the most cowardly bull runner.

The contests help fill the time between the early morning bull run through the cobbled, narrow streets of Pamplona and the evening bullfights. They take place alongside concerts, folk dancing and religious processions.

One of the most generous prizes has been given out for the past five years by Playboy magazine.

It awards 3,000 euros (US$4,275) to the person who takes the photo that manages best “to combine eroticism with the spirit of San Fermin.”

With alchohol flowing freely throughout the festival and the heat inviting people to bare more flesh than they would normally do, couples lose their inhibitions and photo opportunities with a good chance of winning abound.

There is even a special award given out each year since 2004 to the best foreign visitor to the festival.

This year it went to John Patrick Hemingway, the grandson of Nobel prize-winning novelist Ernest Hemingway, whose 1926 novel The Sun Also Rises helped make the San Fermin Festival famous around the world.

“This award is a great honor, not so much for me, but rather my family and above all for my granddad,” he said after collecting the award — a figure of a globe with horns — at a ceremony on Sunday at a Pamplona restaurant.

“I would like to think that I represent my grandfather in receiving this award and I know that he too would be grateful for being given the award,” added Hemingway, who lives in Canada and has visited San Fermin twice before.

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