PIORNAL, Spain – The inhabitants of a small town in Spain’s rural Extremadura region celebrated on Friday an annual festival that involves hurling tons of turnips at a man dressed in an elaborately decorated costume complete with a metal mask, horns and a small drum.
Not even the locals in Piornal, some 242 kilometers (150 miles) west of Madrid, are sure of the exact origins of Jarramplas, but the winter festival, which pays homage to Saint Sebastian, draws in vast crowds of participants, journalists and tourists looking to catch a glimpse of the unique ritual.
“Jarramplas wants you to throw as many turnips possible and as hard as possible, for which reason you need not be frightened, throw with all the enthusiasm you can muster,” Piornal’s mayor told EFE.
The fiesta kicked off when Jarramplas emerged from a doorway, his costume cluttered with hundreds of multi-colored cloth strips topped and sporting a conical helmet painted with a ghoulish face and harsh jagged patterns from which two hemispherical horns emerged.
The townsfolk then took it upon themselves to dispatch a barrage of turnips at the colorful character, who beat a small drum throughout the ordeal.
It is estimated that some 23 tons of turnips walloped and crashed off this ritualistic character on Friday.
Many people in the region have called for the fiesta to be recognized as an international event of touristic interest, a status it so far only holds at a regional level.