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Chestnut Festival in Aldeia das Dez: The rebirth of a people

Chestnut Festival in Aldeia das Dez: The rebirth of a people
villages and territory
In a weekend that also hosted the III Colcurinho Trail, the Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora das Preces received hundreds of visitors, who could see, taste and feel the best that the region has to offer.

“It is the rebirth of the parish and the municipality”.  This is how the president of the Aldeia das Dez Parish Council describes the XVI Festa da Castanha (16th Chestnut Festival) that animated the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Preces, in Vale da Maceira, on the weekend of 20 and 21 October.

“This is a historic turning point. Last year was marked by a tragedy the like of which does not exist in living memory and this is another way of turning things round and showing the resilience of our people”, said Carlos Castanheira.

A message also underlined by the Mayor of Oliveira do Hospital, who made a point of being present. José Carlos Alexandrino considers that, after last year’s cancellation, following the fires that severely affected the municipality, this is a moment that brings “new strength and impetus to do something bigger”.

The mayor said that the council will increasingly focus on the Chestnut Festival, integrating this event into their strategy of “selling yet unknown lands”, in a similar way to that which is already the case with the Oliveira do Hospital Cheese Fair. José Carlos Alexandrino added that, for this to happen, it is necessary to strengthen the integrated plan already underway, involving various organisations, with an emphasis on the Aldeias do Xisto and neighbouring counties. In these places, the borders between boroughs are “only administrative lines” and it is unity that must prevail.

An event that is already “a tradition”

Because some memories last forever and because it is, in fact, necessary to proceed with the reforestation of the region, the organisation closed the event with the distribution of a thousand chestnut trees. Many people queued up to receive theirs and contribute to the cause that belongs to everyone.

 

 


“It’s a symbolic initiative, but important for reforestation”, said Rui Monteiro and Adília Fonseca, chestnut tree in hand. They came from Lagares da Beira to visit the fair and were pleased with their decision. “It is a great event”, they said.
 

 

Even given that there was rain, which was felt throughout the day on Sunday, the enclosure located in the Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora das Preces, in Vale Maceira, was always full.

“Coming to the Chestnut Festival has almost become a tradition. We come every year, also because my father-in-law is from Aldeia das Dez”, said Sandra Valente, who came from Coimbra with her husband, Pedro, and daughter Inês.

“It’s definitely a very interesting event, in a special place”, she continues as little Inês pulls her along, insisting that they follow the band that has since started performing and will parade around the venue.

He also took the time to mention the good organisation of the event, with a “great variety of stands and countless delicacies to taste” and to highlight the “evolving and natural beauty” of the place where it takes place.

“It is very important for us to be able to contribute in some way to the preservation of this cultural heritage and participate in making it more dynamic”, she concluded.

According to Carlos Castanheira, many hundreds of people came to the Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora das Preces to appreciate the products presented by the 70 or so exhibitors. Crafts, sweets, cheeses, sausages, nuts and, of course, chestnuts filled the stalls and caught the attention of visitors.
 

“Considering the year that has passed, you cannot say that business is bad”, affirmed Ana Lourenço, from Donaana. However, “one can see that there still is not much money available”, she stresses.

José Pereira, her husband, agrees. He praised the work that everyone has done, especially if we look at the recent past, but believes that the region has much more to offer and therefore deserves more support.

Children were not forgotten by the organisation and, for the first time, there were activities aimed at children and families. Visual arts, cooking demonstrations, and the sowing of chestnut trees were some of the activities on offer throughout the day for all those who participated.

 

Graça Silva, Oliveira do Hospital’s Councillor for Culture, estimates that more than one hundred children will have participated. Therefore, the focus is to maintain and, who knows, “strengthen this in future initiatives, in order to meet demand”.

The Chestnut Festival would not be complete without the traditional roast. At the end of the afternoon, the pine needles were added, the chestnuts were mixed and the tasting took place.

 


III Colcurinho Trail with more than 200 participants

On Sunday, the Chestnut Festival was joined by the III Colcurinho Trail, which brought together more than 200 participants from all over the country.
 


Luís Miguel Cunha, of the Coimbra Trail Running team, was the overall winner in the Long Trail K25+. The first place in the Trail Kurto K12 went to Filipe Coelho, of Tartarugas Runners. The international athlete Paulo Guerra acted as the godfather of the race.

At the end of the day, Carlos Castanheira was a satisfied and proud mayor. The Chestnut Festival “lived up to expectations”.

Text: Andreia Gonçalves

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