Fira de Tots Sants in Cocentaina
Original craft work in the “Fira de Tots Sants” in Cocentaina
One of the best known events in the province of Alicante is the “Fira de Tots Sants” in Cocentaina. An incredible event, with some 800 (yes, really, 800) or so stands in all the streets of this provincial town, selling everything from cars to horses, food, drink, clothes and household goods. There’s nothing remotely like it in this part of the world and people come from Murcia, Castellón, Albacete – some half a million visitors are expected in the four days from 29 October to 1 November. And this year there’s going to be a new departure, with Amata opening the very first “Artesanía de Autor” section with some 50 or 60 stands with work by people living and working in Spain and selling only their own work.
Cocentaina has an interesting historical centre, with narrow streets, impressive town houses, a ducal palace and of course the usual churches. A nice place at any time to stop and admire the old Spain, but visiting the fair has to be experienced to be believed. The “Fira de Tots Sants” has been held from 1346 or so, when King Pere II of País València granted a Royal Charter. It gets busier each year, and this year, with the aim of raising the general tone of the event, the Town Hall has invited Amata to organise one part of the fair.
Amata suggested that this section of the fair be called “Artesanía de Autor” and the good burghers of Cocentaina immediately jumped at the proposal. Of late there has been a lot of craft work imported from the far East, Africa and South America, much of it sold at so-called craft and medieval fairs and markets throughout Spain. Most of it is either imported by the man or woman on the stall on a once-a-year trip to far away, or, more usually, bought from the specialist shops for this sort of material in all the big towns. Amata wants to maintain or bring back genuine craft work by people living and working Spain, selling their own work, most of which is original and of much higher quality than the imported stuff.
At “Artesanía de Autor” you can look at the stalls, knowing that everything is made by the man or woman at the stall. And what lovely work, made with care and attention, a labour of love by people who prefer doing this work to working in a factory or office. Here you will get really original jewelry, wooden toys, leather handbags that last a life time, hand painted T-shirts, decorated lamps, original candles, iron and other metal candlesticks, carved bone hair grips, decorated glass, mosaic boxes – all items you might see in a gallery (at three or four times the price) but you’ll never see in any ordinary shop.
Cocentaina Town Hall will allow the craftsmen and women some extra space – without charging for the privilege – at the side of their stall so as to be able to work during the fair. Which means that you can watch how the stuff being sold is made, and perhaps have a piece made to suit your special requirements – after all, there are four days.
The Fair in general will run from 29 October to 1 November and be open from 10 in the morning till 9 pm. Most of the stalls in the “Artesanía de Autor” area will stay open at lunch time (from 2 till 5 pm; we are in Spain!), and this may be a good time to visit, because most of the time the Fair is as crowded as the exit of an English cinema just before they play the National Anthem. If you want to come by car, make sure you arrive very early so as to find a place to park that doesn’t involve walking 3 km or so.
Cocentaina lies on the main N340/A7 road from Alicante to Valencia (not the coastal road, but going inland, over Alcoy), just 5 km North of Alcoy. The arts-&-crafts-area is easy to find: one of the two streets (the calle Mosen Eugenio Raduan) is a side street, to the left if you are going North, of the main Avenida del País Valencia, the old N340 through the town, about 100 yards North of the road to Benilloba; there will be a banner with “Artesanía de Autor” at the entrance of the street. For further information ring Elvira on 639 979 678 – she speaks English. Also have a look at our web site www.amata.es.