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Arles 2013: The Ferrade by Jeff Dunas


En Trois Mots: The Round-up. One of the genuine highlights for many of us at the Rencontres is the Ferrade, generously offered by the Hoffmann family since many, many years. The closest thing I can equate the experience to is a kind of enjoyable and anticipated family reunion, a bit like the movie Ground-Hog Day – the ritual is the same: On the appointed morning, we gather in the Place du Forum, and like the famous 1952 BBC film, London to Brighton in Four Minutes ( in which we see, from the point of view of the train driver, the entire train journey in high speed) we get in the car, try not to miss the signs to Gageron and drive down roads we know by heart but are never sure are the right ones – past the pink flamingoes until finally, long after we’re certain to have missed the Ferrade by many kilometers, the entrance comes into view.

We park in approximately the same place as in year’s past, walk the same well-worn path towards the welcome, wondering if we’ve missed the spectacle of the chasing of the young bull – the branding and the fine horsemanship we know so well. No – we haven’t missed it! We pick up the conversations exactly where we left off last year. We enjoy a cocktail, a beer, or a glass of wine as the horses amass, the spectacle commences, then ends with cheers all around. Slowly we all return to our place except a year has passed since we took them.

The meals are copious, a wonderful paella was served – a feast! Harry Gruyeart takes his place and we continue the conversation.

This year Arno Minkinnen is sitting where we last saw Koudelka. The musicians stroll by, adding the sounds that become synonymous with Arles and the Ferrade – the women dance exactly as before except —wait – it’s a year later! Minutes have elapsed into years, and, thanks again to our hosts – today’s Ferrade slowly becomes yesterday.

Jeff Dunas

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