First and Last Monday of October in Gernika
As the old adage goes, Monday in Gernika is a day to enjoy:
"LUNES GERNIKES, KOLPERIK EZ"
Dating back more than 650 years - to when it was first established as a town, in fact - Gernika boasts one of the few remaining traditional markets in the Basque Country. Back in 1366, Gernika’s founding Charter granted it the right to hold a weekly market.
Nowadays, every Monday, people from all over the region of Busturialdea flock to the Gernika market to buy and sell agricultural products. Every Monday there’s an atmosphere of colour and gaiety that until recently reached its peak with games of pelota at the Jai-Alai fronton, considered by many professional pelota players as the best fronton in the world.
First Monday in October: Livestock Fair
Euskadi Pirenaica Cattle Show
The Euskadi Pirenaica Cattle Show is one of the events that go to make up Gernika’s “First Monday of October” livestock fair. The competition features more than 100 specimens in various categories.
Over the course of two days, all eyes in the primary sector turn to Gernika, a reference point and a showcase for a breed primarily intended for the production of meat, an increasingly important aspect of Basque farms, albeit to the detriment of dairy cattle.
The show gets underway on the Sunday with the selection of the best specimens in the nine sections into which the competition is divided. Two experts assess various aspects of the cattle, including their morphological characteristics, and then select the three best animals.
On the Monday, the event officials designate the best cow and bull from among the most highly-ranked animals, the most outstanding insemination cow and the best livestock farm.
On the two days of the fair, different tastings are held to allow visitors the opportunity to sample meat from cattle of this breed which has been awarded a quality label.
They will also be able to buy products such as cider, txakoli, bread, Basque cake, cheese and handicrafts from stalls dotted around the giant marquee in which the livestock are kept.
Last Monday in October: Agricultural fair
One of the Basque Country’s most important annual agricultural fairs.
The Last Monday in October is a traditional Basque market that sprawls throughout the entire town centre and brings together thousands of people every year, attracted not only by the quality of the products on sale, but also by the festive atmosphere. Producers distribute their goods throughout the different streets in the town centre, for example: Artekalea, Industria, Juan Calzada, San Juan… In total, some 900 or so stalls must be open for business on that day, if we count the permanent stalls that attend the market every Monday of the year, and the street vendors.
What can I buy at the Last Monday in October fair?
One of the main attractions of the fair is the competitions and exhibitions of cheese, txakoli from Vizcaya, honey, flowers, fruit and vegetables. The jury grades the products first thing in the morning, after which the exhibitors can get on with selling their products. The prize-giving ceremony normally takes place in front of the well-known “Fuente del Mercurio” (Mercury Fountain) around midday. This is followed by the eagerly awaited auction of one half of the prize-winning cheese. This auction is held for charity and is extremely popular - bids have been known to reach thousands of euros.
Lots of other products are on sale throughout the day, such as cider, bread, sweets, doughnuts, vegetables, pâté, preserves, products with the Eusko Quality Label, organic food...
Visitors can also see how Basque handicraft products are made and an exhibition of agricultural machinery. “Bertsolaris” (singers of traditional Basque musical verse) and street parades add to the fun. The programme also includes sporting events such as cesta punta and handball. The crack and the partying go on until the early hours of the morning.
Tips on how to enjoy the last Monday in October
- Come early! You would be well advised to use public transport. If you do come by car, arm yourself with patience and look for somewhere to park away from the town centre.
- Wear comfortable shoes! You’ll be doing a lot of walking if you’re going to take in all the stalls and try some of the different “delicatessen”. And you’ve been warned! The party goes on into the night...
- Bring an appetite with you and a willingness to try typical dishes such as talo (a kind of local corn tortilla) with chorizo sausage or black pudding and pintxos of Idiazabal cheese, all washed down with a good txakoli or a bottle of cider. And no way should you go without dessert: treat your palate to a piece of Basque cake or something of that ilk.