The Sanfermin Round Table Commission had an uncommon and special visitor yesterday to its meeting, the Mayor of Pamplona, Enrique Maya. His visit did not arise by chance for he came to raise the subject of trying to revive the traditional event of the Riau-Riau. The Sanfermin Commission, which is made up of representatives from different social groups and associations, greeted the proposal positively.
The singing and dancing are repeated time and time again and it is interpreted by the city hall brass band, La Pamplonesa with a verbal “Riau-Riau” from the public. The record of the number of times the piece was played was set in 1980 when it was played 181 times in succession. The person who was responsible for this initiative was Ignacio Baleztena and his son relates the original story in the blog blog de Premin de Iruña.
In 1991 the Riau-riau was suspended from the official program after some serious incidents which prevented the city hall councilors from completing the course. In 1972 and in 1980 it had also been imposible to finish the course due to the mass of bodies in front of the procession. But this time, because of the intensity of the incident it was decided to suspend the event. There were attempts to revive the event almost from the beginning, and on other years such as 1996, but without much success.
In 1997 some members of the Peña Mutilzarra made some of the first attempts to recover the popular event without the permission of the councilors or political parties. This initiative was backed by some of the old folk’s associations, under the guidance of Patxi García. Little by little this effort gained support from the public and since 2002, the asociación de jubilados Yoar (Pensioner’s Association) have taken over the organization of this event. In 2006 both the City Hall brass band, La Pamplonesa as well as the Comparsa de Gigantes y Cabezudos(The Troupe of Giants and Big-Heads) joined in the event once again and now the event looks very much as it always had, except for the absence of the city hall councilors.