June 27, 2011 5:43 AM
Many people are familiar with the “Running of the Bulls” during the festival of San Fermin in Spain, but did you know that New Orleans stages its own "encierro" (bull run)? Meet Tracey O’Donnell, co-founder of NOLA Bulls, the company behind San Fermin in Nueva Orleans.
Insider: What is the New Orleans bull run all about?
Tracey: San Fermin in Nueva Orleans is an annual festival featuring an encierro, which replicates the “Running of the Bulls” of Pamplona, Spain. Only our “bulls” are members of the Big Easy Rollergirls and participants from roller derby leagues across the country.
Insider: Is it dangerous?
Tracey: Of course not. These "RollerBulls" use plastic bats to chase down and “gore” the runners safely while still dispensing an element of “danger” to thrill seekers.
Insider: When did this start?
Tracey: The first New Orleans encierro took place on July 7, 2007, with only a handful of Rollergirls and a few hundred runners. For 2011, the festival will see as many as 10,000 participants and more than 400 Rollergirls from 27 different roller derby leagues across the continent.
Insider: I understand that you are a graphic designer at Tulane. Will other members of the Tulane community participate?
Tracey: There are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of Tulane students, faculty, alumni and staff involved in the festival — from RollerBulls and runners to our official “pontiff” and announcer, alumnus Andrew Ward.
Insider: How should people prepare for the run?
Tracey: You should have the proper attire—white shirt, white shorts, skirt or pants, red scarf around the neck, red sash around the waist, and comfortable running shoes. Because of the heat, runners are also encouraged to stay hydrated and show up early.
Insider: Why would anyone be interested in dressing up to run from women on skates?
Tracey: ¿Por qué no?
The festival is free and runs July 8–10, with the encierro beginning at 8 a.m. on July 9 at Ernst Cafe.
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