Most towns have their odd little traditions and customs, and Cardigan is no exception. The one I love the most is Sadwrn Barlys (Barley Saturday).
Barley Saturday has been taking place since 1871 and it’s kind of like Cardigan’s version of Pamplona’s running of the bulls (only a but more low key). Traditionally it was where farmers from Cardigan and the surrounding area could hire new staff and inspect prize stallions put out to stud. The stallions would be judged and then paraded through the town led by the supreme champion.
On the last Saturday of April hundreds of people line the streets of Cardigan and watch as farmers run their stallions down the high street. And the stallions are everything from tiny Shetlands to great beasts of Shire horses.
The best ones are the ones that look like they are wild. They have a look in their eyes that is both fearful and arrogant. They almost sneer at the crowd as they rear their heads and fight against the restraint of the reins.
There have been times when the farmer looks like he has no hold over the horse and the horse veers off towards the crowd. We have seen young girls fighting to keep control over towering horses. We have witnessed stallions kicking and rearing. And last year, one stallion broke loose and was heading towards the crowd, but was stopped by a brave policeman just in the nick of time. This threat of danger just adds to the excitement.
It’s not long to the next Barley Saturday and I will take my family and join the other families of Cardigan to watch our town’s quirky little parade that marks the start of our summer.
Trevelin also has its own unique little festival and it too involves horses. When the team went to visit back in November, they were lucky enough to be there when the festival took place.
It starts with a re-enactment of the journey the first settlers made when they discovered ‘Cwm Hyfred’ (the beautiful valley) back in 1885. A group of ‘Rifleros’ climb from the town on horseback to the same spot where Colonel Jorge Fontana and his gang first spotted the valley. They recite some prayers of thanks, raise the Argentinean flag and sing the national anthems of Argentina and Wales. And then it’s back down to the town for celebrations and parades.
The town really welcomed our little howies group into their celebrations. Lydia was asked to carry the Welsh Society flowers, which was a real honour and the team were guests of honour, at a performance by the local Welsh choir.