Often we feel that the greatest value of our Fira has been the constant adaptation that it has shown throughout the ages, and has managed to maintain its origins while incorporating more current and contemporary novelties.
If we move to its origin, it has nothing to do with the current Fira format that we know, nothing in terms of any of the different parameters that can structure it: dates, location and duration ... From those times of 1346 we do maintain the presence of the agricultural and livestock sector during the sample. In those days, we had a fair that was located in the Plaza de la Villa as the nerve center, which was held in San Miguel, and which lasted for 15 days, approximately until October 14.
I don't know if anyone would imagine that towards the 17th century the center of the commercial exhibition would become the Pla square, in front of the Palau Comtal, or that already in the 20th century it would reach a tremendous expansion towards a new urban area of ??the municipality such as the passeig del Comtat.
However, and without running so much towards the year 1768, the Fair was already showing its supremacy in the national territory, it was already considered the largest and most productive in all of Spain, and it was decided to carry out a very important modification to adjust the calendar fair of commercials from all over Spain. In this way, in 1795, it happened to be celebrated by All Saints, a date that we currently keep.
This look back shows us that every certain period of time the Fair has had to restructure some important aspect of its basic structure: well dates, well locations, well any adaptation that makes it continue to lead this fair sector and being a benchmark in terms of a model of a commercial fair on public roads.
Therefore, we must always be prepared to see how the Fair adapts its structure to possible factors over time, and proof of this is the adaptation that will be carried out in this 675th edition, motivated by the health situation of the Covid -19.
The format of Fira 2021
With this situation that we have had to live and that has modified and affected various aspects of our lives so much, it was logical that the Fira would not get rid of the effect of Covid-19. It has been a period of time of study, of evaluations, of analysis of dates in which at all times we had consultations from city councils all over Spain asking ourselves what we were going to do, meanwhile, we were shaping and analyzing different scenarios of what the Fira according to the health scenarios that were developing. The objective was clear: the adopted format had to combine the commercial part with the health security in a high percentage of viability. Difficult task analyzing the perspective from different points of view: exhibitors / visitors.
With the emergence of other methods and technological solutions that were shown in the market to control capacity and occupation of space in real time, this solution was valued, which was discarded immediately, since passage cannot be limited on public roads. to the citizens. The alternative of taking the different sectors in limited spaces in order to control the capacity was also unfeasible, both due to lack of space, and because of the breakdown of what has not changed so far since 1346, and that is the celebration of the Fair in the streets of Cocentaina.
Continuing with the objective of possible viable formats, we were already clear from the Fair Department that our task no longer consisted of limiting access to anyone, a new objective was proposed, not so much with the intention of obtaining the viability of a commercial sample of the that we were talking about, business-health security, but to obtain a format that could meet the sanitary regulations that were being decreed in the public thoroughfare, reduce the density of the Fair surface to the maximum and create a fairground with a greater amplitude so that the Visitors circulated with more security and that they could find a commercial offer as similar as possible to the one we usually know.
There were two actions that were envisaged to achieve, as we said, a more spacious venue: on the one hand, reducing the number of exhibitors by half; on the other, reduce the exhibition space and keep the usual number.
However, neither of the two proposals advanced, since reducing the number of exhibitors was a complicated and unethical role towards all those people who are present at the Fair year after year, and thanks to the good work of those of us who have a Exhibitor loyalty is around 90% in each edition, so it was not fair to leave some out of the contest. On the other hand, the reduction of commercial space collided with the impossibility of carrying out an exhibition in the first place worthy for the consumer as well as profitable for the exhibitor.
As a consequence of the impossibility of implementing these first two proposed actions, the format was redirected towards the possibility of extending the period of time for the celebration, which would not affect the number of exhibitors or their exhibition format. This planning was gaining strength, since, in addition to respecting the values ??we mentioned, it could have a very positive impact on the local and regional economy, in a way that could almost invigorate the area for a longer period of time. It was time to analyze and quantify all the pros and cons of this format, which at one point ranged up to four weekends, an option discarded for now obvious reasons, but that at the time and, given the health situation in which we we found, it was not far-fetched.
Finally, we opted for the format that this year we present for two weekends. This format is the one that best combines the two values ??of security and commercial profitability, as well as many others that we mention below:
- The occupation of the surface offers guarantees to keep the sanitary measures on the part of the visitors (a reduction of around 50% has been taken every weekend).
- Although on different weekends, all the large-format exhibitors will be present in a very similar way to what is usual.
- It is the format that minimizes the inconvenience to the Cocentaina neighborhood, which although it is true that some areas will be occupied for almost two weeks, alternatives of passage and circulation have been proposed that surely do not entail a total collapse as is usually generated in a Fair of "usual format".
- Dynamization of local commerce and hospitality for a longer period of time, as well as an advantage for the service sector that it did not suffer from business "leakage" as in other editions in which they can no longer offer more service.
- Of course, the fact of maintaining the combination that makes our Fair different, such as the commercial part together with the leisure section, a responsible and controlled leisure year, but which will be present on two weekends: children's attractions, restaurant area, culture and "hippie stalls."
All this scenario entails a health Contingency Plan that safeguards the responsibility and good work in the sample before the Covidien-19; in this case, actions and sanitary regulations have been foreseen, such as the following:
- The use of the mask at the entrance of the fairgrounds.
- Compliance with health regulations for exhibitors at their stands.
- The security separation between exhibitors.
- The incorporation of buffer zones and low density (empty streets at the exit of each occupied zone).
- The elimination of those streets that are normally occupied at the Fair and that are less than 8 meters wide, occupying only squares and wide streets.
- Increased support staff to inform visitors of security compliance and help guide visitors.
- The incorporation of technologies that inform us in real time of the status of each area of ??the Fair.
- The continuous disinfection of common public areas (services, information points ...).
- The adaptation of the hospitality sector towards a more reduced and controlled format.
- The elimination of musical entertainment and performances that became points of high concentration of visitors.
- Quite a job carried out during a period of constant changes that at all times was between the suspension for one more year of the face-to-face Fair, and the adaptation to the current situation in a responsible way and being pinyon workers on a national scale in the Contingency Plan adopted.
The future of Fira de Tots Sants
It is important to remember that the format adopted is a «force majeure» that the current world situation has given us. It is not yet time to make evaluations of the format that has been chosen and we will see what awaits us after the celebration of the 675th edition of the Fira.
However, many times forced changes make us see things differently and we must take the positive point out of all the work that has been done, and not rule out changes in the future ... As we said at the beginning, the Fair always has adapted to the passage of time.
Gustavo Baena - Technical Fair Department