Hate to rain on your parade (E.P.F.2019)
Updated: Aug 25, 2019
Judging the European Festival's parade performances.
I hate to rain on anyone’s parade but under the three different criteria of Originality, Atmosphere and Costumes, I took a pen and paper as well as my camera to check out each country’s parade and to adjudicate them.
Germany and France were clear winners for atmosphere as the two nations danced together from the very begining and brought half of Europe with them.
France I thought was lacking in originality and costumes with just flags and blue t-shirts but the Germans lead the parade as always in their Winnietou costumes.
How? I am a bit of a fan of the Karl May saga thanks to the comedian Michael "Bully" Herbig who referenced the works of Karl May in his German comedies. Over a 100 years ago Karl May wrote Winnetou, which is a story about an Indian and a Cowboy who become friends with the classic lines, "Mein Bruder." (My brother)
While my German is terrible, the comedy was genius and I also loved their silly Star Trek series, Traumshiff Surprise, Raum Shiff would translate as space (room) ship and adding a T made it Dream Ship.
When I went to visit the European Festival for a couple of days in 2001 in Hamburg, I got to see the wonderful Cowboys & Indians fight sequence in Bad Segeberg. Well I got to see it again as by chance, I was brought to the same event in 1995 while on a German language exchange. As we would say in Spanish, "El Mundo es un pañuelo," It's a small world.
The nostalgic deja vu and days spent watching Bully Parade and Michael Herbig's films in a cinema outside Berlin meant I too felt a connection to these Indians, just like Karl May’s protagonist Old Shatterhand.
Glückwunsch, Germany came third in the parade.
Far from the days of The Maginot Line where French fortifications were built between the two World Wars and named after the French Minister of War André Maginot, the steel fence pictured here which I included in the Photography Competition shows the thin divide between our European neighbours.
At the heart of the festival is breaking down barriers and thanks to European ministers such as Paddy Cooney in Athlone, the smiles at the start of the parade between European nations and the sharing of each others' flags shows the goodwill that exists among many neighbouring nations today.
One photograph I would love to have included in the Photo Competition if people would have noticed the difference was of a cold Belgian girl wearing a German hoodie as her German freund wrapped her Belgian flag around him. The two flags almost identical but the gesture quite incredible.
Queen of the parade
Click, click, click, there was one beautiful Lithuanian dressed in a giant yellow sun dress who smiled and posed and danced through-out the parade. She looked fantastic and I call her the Queen of the Parade.
A very effective lively dance meant meant that while I wouldn’t use any of the wonderful pictures of her in the Photo Competition, Lithuania scored well for costume, originality and atmosphere. I ignored many wonderful pictures of this sunflower because I knew every other photographer would have photographed her too.
Lithuania's entry was well liked and came Second in the Parade Competition.
When in Portugal, do as the Spanish do
Wearing my baseball hat from Pamplona, the Spanish were next up to impress me as they re-enacted a bull run as part of the parade. Sadly there was no one else around as the Spaniards pretended to wait for the off as the two fake bulls chased them down the road.
I thought I was the only one to really see their bull run re-actment and I wasn't sure if everyone else would have appreciated the bull run theatrics as I did but Spain picked up plenty of marks for atmosphere, originality and costumes from me and the other adjudicators and actually won.
Their costumes weren’t that impressive apart from their funny foam hats but a few days later, they all appeared as Romans in what were incredible costumes. These Romans came, they saw and they did a Bull-run and conquered the competition. Well done Spain, my second home.
Thanks to Louise, I even ended up with one of their Spanish swords as she found one of them and gifted it to me to go with my pirate costume that I wore to the swimming competition. Grrrr
Irlanda, nul points
While I couldn’t vote for Ireland, I would be in a difficult position to award top marks in any of the categories as the Irish team seemed to disappear from 32 to what I counted as only 7 (9) at the very end of the parade.
With two girls in green dresses, Saint Patrick and Willy dressed as a Shamrock, the Irish were dressed in original costumes and with Damien reminding everyone, “Where do we come from?” we also had a little atmosphere to add too but depending on where the other adjudicators saw the Irish team, we were either nul points or full points.
GREEN TEAM: Dressed in green with war paint and even a fantastic tri-coloured mohawk.
DRUMMING UP SUPPORT: I can certainly see Originality, Atmosphere and Costumes.
Clearly Claudia and Damien were colourful enough to be featured in a video about the Expo but as the cultural group was called away early for a sound check which many Portuguese people kept calling "Checksound", we lost half the group before exhaustion claimed more members before reaching the main stage and mayoral speeches.
I took the Irish flag as best I could to wave it passionately as the sunburn on my legs begged to find the shade at the end of the parade. Red raw and disappointed how well some less colourful groups came together in front of the judges at the main stage, it was time to find a camper van with some Aftersun.
I hate to rain on the Irish Parade but at least in Athlone, we are used to a little rain falling on people dressed in green and as Saint Patrick. We'll be luckier next year and won't be Paddy last.
Thanks again Sarah Hogan for the fridge cool, Aftersun, you're an absolute legend.
If you thought the Irish entry looked a little dead by the end of the parade then I have some ideas for next year's parade. Don't give up the Ghost just yet and click on the link below to find out more.
PHOTOS FROM THE PARADE: https://www.epf-parade.nohemingway.com
Hope I didn't rain on your parade