The Fine Fruit Festival in the tiny town of El Hoyo, Argentina, lets visitors into small-town life in Patagonia.
EL FESTIVAL de la Fruta Fina is a three-day event in itsy-bitsy El Hoyo (pop. 6,000), Argentina. It’s one of several regional events over the summer (including the Festival de Asado in nearby Cholila, and the Festival de Lupulo in El Bolsón) that celebrate the region’s culinary traditions and local culture. These festivals are a great way to meet local artisans and farmers who are typically working up in their farms or “chacras” and not in town.
View from the window
"El Festival de la Fruta Fina" is a 3-day event that takes place in the small Argentine Patagonian town of El Hoyo.
Windshield in El Hoyo
The vehicle market in Argentina is small and exports are heavily taxed, meaning prices remain high even on used vehicles. Visitors will find vehicles here held together by wire, cars and trucks that that would have long since been scrapped in other parts of the world.
Horse in El Hoyo
Unlike Barriloche (2.5 hours north) which has a major ski area and tourism year round, small towns like El Hoyo have a single tourist season, which starts in late December and is over by mid February.
El Hoyo is situated in an enormous valley between the Andean Cordillera to the west and the comb ridges of the pre-cordillera to the east. Huge waterfalls and condor gliding over ridgelines can be found within a 30 minutes' walk from town.
At the waterfall
Mate, a bitter herbal drink, is consumed widely in the area, with some parents introducing it to their kids with milk. It's drunk from a small gourd or cup, through a sieved straw.
Woods near El Hoyo
Forest fires in January did serious damage to the forest around El Hoyo, and also caused the festival to be postponed until March.
Plants for sale
El Hoyo and nearby towns El Bolsón and Lago Puelo all lie in a unique terrain, a broad valley with Valdivian rainforest on the windward / Pacific side, and dry cypress forest on the other. These are cypress plants for sale.
Small-scale food production
A large number of people in this area live on chacras, small, family-run farms that produce everything from hops, beer, berries, greens, and walnuts, to cheese and yogurt. Weekly markets or "ferias" take place throughout the region, allowing small producers to ply their wares.
Kids are everywhere in El Hoyo, rarely left at home. The expectation is that if there's an event, kids are more than welcome.
It's not uncommon in towns like El Hoyo for children to ride their bikes around town, unsupervised, from the age of five or six. Here a girl is accompanied by her family on her bike as part of the festival's events.
Singer on stage
Nacho Silva, a gender-bending pop singer who's been compared to Marilyn Manson, was a big hit at the festival.
Argentina has many regional traditional folk dances, including the chacarera, which is originally from the Misiones region, in the northeast of Argentina, where a part of the country juts into Brazil.
Spectators at night
Living in a climate that's wet, windy, and rainy much of the year means dropping temperatures in summer when the sun goes down (around 8:30 PM) don't faze anyone.
Sipping fruit drink
The "fine fruits" of the festival are blueberries, cherries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries. They're sold whole in cups or blended with rum, for a refreshing treat that can yield a toxic hangover.
For teens, the main activity in a town like El Hoyo is hanging out. Life is lived outdoors, and people just pedal or walk along until they run into someone else. People spend a lot of time standing around, but that's life in small-town Argentina.
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Michael James Wright is a graduate from the Graphic Design program at the Universidad de Guanajuato Mexico and MBA from Art Theory and Production of Artistic projects of the UEM PhotoEspaña. He is a multicultural Latino with an American name, face and passport, currently living in El Bolsón, Argentina. You can see is work and links to his portfolios at www.michaeljameswright.com