Pamplonada festival: The running of the bulls in Píllaro is mostly about having fun, the mayor says

Aug 8, 2017 | 2 comments

The final numbers or in from Monday’s running of the bulls at the Pamplonada festival in Píllaro. More than 12,000 tourists showed up to witness 25 injuries, most of them minor.

Bulls running in the streets of Píllaro.

“It was a fantastic day for Píllaro,” proclaimed Patricio Sarabia, mayor of the small town in Tungurahua Province. “This is always a great occasion and we are happy to share it with visitors. Of course, there were a few bumps and bruises too, but that’s just part of the celebration.”

Actually, the Pamplonada festival is the second best-known annual event in Píllaro. Its “Parade of the Devil” in January attracts larger crowds and more media attention.

According to Sarabia, the running of the bulls through a 15-block stretch of downtown Píllaro, is the largest such event in Ecuador. “It is a show of the bravery and skill of the young men from the highlands,” he says. “They are natural bull handlers because they live among the bulls.”

Traffic jam of people and bulls on main street.

Sarabia says the point of the event, unlike the famous running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, is not to create danger for either people or animals. “These bulls are not trained to be fighters and they don’t die in the bullring at the end of the run. They return to their pastures where they are tended by many of the same people who participate in the run. We don’t want injuries for either people or bulls and we have had very few serious ones over the years. If you want to see blood, you will disappointed in Píllaro.”

Although four people ended up in the hospital following Monday’s run, none of the injuries were life-threatening.

According to Sarabia, the bull-running festival name, Pamplonada, was chosen for its similarity to Pamplona. “There is some marketing there, I admit it,” he says. But there is also a connection to Spanish tradition which developed the modern concept of bull fighting and bull runs, he says. “We combine that tradition with our own but our main objective is to have a good time.”

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