The Feria was first held back in 1884 in the Canton San Nicolas. It’s had various different homes over the years, but finally settled down in 1984 in order to celebrate its 100 year anniversary. The fairgrounds – CEFEMERQ – are now held each year in the same place, just outside of town.
You can expect your usual fairground fun and frolics, with shooting galleries and various other games and challenges dotted around the place, alongside a hvariety of food and drink stalls. Unfortunately, the more traditional games have been phased out of the fair, so you probably won’t have the chance to participate in games like chasing greased pigs (los coches encebados), balancing on ropes (la tamba del Diablo) or climbing greased poles (el palo encebado).
But you do get to go on the rides! The rides at the feria are much like Guatemala’s chicken buses – after they fail to pass the health and safety standards of countries like the US they get sent over here for us all to enjoy. This turns even the most traditionally relaxing and pleasant attractions, such as the Ferris Wheel, into white-knuckle terror rides as you wonder whether the rickety, old structure will hold out just that extra 5 minutes whilst you ride on it, or whether your carriage will fly off and go hurtling through the crowds. The aforementioned Ferris Wheel is definitely the centrepiece of this rusty old show, as it flies around at least double the speed of your average Wheel, creaking and squeaking every step of the way. Just keep those ears pricked for the sound of fall nuts and bolts!
The big night is on the eve of Independence Day, the 14th, when there is a big, free concert playing everything from Marimba to Rock. At midnight, the mayor gets on stage and gives his infamous “grito de independencia” (independence shout) speech, after which there are fireworks and church bells ringing galore until the revelry picks up again and continues right through the night. Indeed, one of the best things about Independence eve is that bars don’t have to abide by that irritating “close at 1am” law – on this night everyone is free to keep partying as long as their stamina permits.
It’s worth mentioning that the feria is a haven for pickpockets and bagslashers. So, don’t get too paranoid, but make sure you keep a close eye on your stuff.
CEFEMERQ is located just out of town, past Trigales on the Pereferico. The Municipality will be providing transport from near the Parque Benito Juarez on the days of the Feria. See you there!