France in your corner of the world
Located outside the west coast farming town of Bourail, we join the throng and become enveloped in the unmistakable sounds and smells of the fair: barbequed food, loudspeaker voices and farm animals.
This could only be the 36th annual Bourail Fair and Field Days!
A mix of French and tropical fare
Every year across three packed days the farming and stockbreeding town of Bourail invites all to enjoy la brousse. The Foire de Bourail presents all the bush has to offer. Halls of local produce display everything from deliciously perfumed vanilla beans and punnets of strawberries to odd-looking varieties of igname and citrouille.
We pass a stall offering fresh coconut sorbet where a young man pedals an ancient-looking ice crusher. A stall selling cobs of freshly steamed corn is attracting crowds with its tantalising aromas. And a crêpe vendor blends French and local fare, with a bustling side trade in piping hot saucisse au cerf – game sausages. Other vendors manage large queues of people waiting for bougna and brochettes.
The French tropical broussards
The major attraction is the rodeo and the farm animals. Fearless cowboys take their chances on a large bull or horse, and the cheers of the crowd are deafening. Competitors on horseback chase down a calf in the calf-roping event. At one point in the day, hordes of children suddenly converge, climbing the fence into the arena to chase a pigling and claim a prize.
Elsewhere, clever farm dogs are put through their paces and pedigree breeds compete to be the best in show. Young families line to admire sheep, goats, ducks, alpaca and magnificently adorned roosters. Further up the hill on another arena, well-trained horses bearing competitors in sparkly western shirts demonstrate various disciplines in the equestrian events.
In rows of stalls, enormous bulls look bored. And horses – of every breed, colour and size – are all around. There are several minutes of alarm and interest as one bold horse manages to break its tether and comes trotting past us, chased by young broussards in large Akubra cowboy hats. New Caledonian animals have a lot more to offer than I had originally thought!
Outdoor fun in a French territory
Beyond the arena and exhibition halls of le foire are the avenues of rides. Overlooking that, dirt bikes and quad bikes create dust clouds on their hillside courses. The precision drivers of the concours de trial 4×4, almost defying gravity as they take their vehicles over sheer drops draw gasps from the crowd.
Cracks ring in the distance – the clay pigeon shooters are competing. In the mid-afternoon glare, the nearby stall selling freshly squeezed orange juice is kept busy.
We pass a group of danseurs mélanésiens, swaying, stomping and twirling to traditional music with a dance beat. Adorned with feathers and skin painted, the dancers certainly add a festive vibe.
This is France, in my corner of the world.
What does France mean to you? How do you Frenchify your life where you live? Tell us in the comments box below.Image credits:
All by Rachelle Burgoyne
Except 3. Foire Rodéo, via Wikimedia Commons.