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Festa da Flor 2011



Campo Maior ( 039° 0'57.14"N , 007° 3'51.58"W ) is a small village in Alentejo, Portugal.

It has a curious tradition.

Every random number of years (...the actual time lapse varies and is decided exclusively by the locals, who proudly state that "as festas são quando o povo quer", meaning "the festivities happen when the people so wishes") the small 8800 inhabitants community, less than 10 kilometers from the border with Spain, goes through a colorful metamorphosis and changes itself into an array of flowery streets decorated with arches, thematic arrangements and assorted elaborate flower-patterned items.

Only (...and here's the thing...) they are not real flowers...They are paper ones.

Yes, paper flowers (…over 23 tons of paper, this year around…), laboriously hand-crafted by the Campo-Maiorenses, for several months, in preparation for their much beloved celebrations, named "Festa do Povo" or "Festa da Flor".

These festivities have been in my photographic calendar for quite some time. They were last held in 2004 and, since then, each year, I have been closely scrutinizing any news that would come along about a much anticipated new edition.

Finally, this year, they decided to have them again, so, needless to say, I reserved a few days off work to visit the village and have a "photographic go" at the event.

Working on a tip from one of the organizers I contacted in advance, my wife and I arrived on the day before the festivities were scheduled to start. It turns out that the whole of the decorations are put in place during that night to achieve an effect like "today everything is normal, tomorrow morning it´s a flower bonanza!".

As such, I wanted to arrive on Friday, with the inauguration scheduled for Saturday, so I could cover the actual putting in place of the decorations by the locals.

I stayed until 10pm that evening, registering their work and then went for a quick sleep to be back at 4 am for some photos of the finished streets, before they would be crowded with visitors.

...and, boy, am I glad I did so because the crowd was huge, indeed...

As I mentioned , Campo Maior has less that 9000 inhabitants and an estimated 1000000+ (Portuguese and Spaniards) visited the small community during the nine days of the event !...( I included some photos of the crowds for an idea on how things were, from Saturday noon onwards).

I am quite glad with this photo coverage of mine and, also a bit proud, since I feel they aptly convey the beauty and overall atmosphere of the event.

Early Saturday morning, everything already set-up, walking along the streets snapping away and talking to the odd exhausted, sleep deprived but immensely proud resident, I could not but feel a bit emotional about it all:

In these self-centered days and age it strikes me as an extraordinary thing that friends, neighbors and even complete strangers can come together under a common goal and, as a solidary group of people, come up with such a beautiful and meaningful communal celebration.

I hope you also enjoy it!

(more photos to be added)

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