Old Spanish festival ends without gore, but bull still dies

TORDESILLAS, Spain (AP) — Hundreds of people took part Tuesday in a centuries-old Spanish bull-chasing festival, but under orders once again that the animal — which is eventually killed in any case — should not be harmed with spears or darts.

The Toro de La Vega (The Bull in the Meadow) festival in the northcentral town of Tordesillas traditionally saw the bull speared to death by revelers who chased it from the town to outlying fields on horseback or on foot before thousands of onlookers, in what was one of Spain’s goriest spectacles.

Organizers say the tradition dates from the 14th century.

Animal rights protests over the years have led to changes in the spectacle and in 2016 it was prohibited to kill the bull in public during the festival — although it was still permitted to put the animal to death out of the public eye afterwards. That year saw scuffles between animal rights activists and locals.

After a two-year hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic, the town tried to allow darts to be thrown at the bull this year but the government and animal rights groups intervened.

The town has long accused animal rights activists, the media and outsiders of meddling in an event that’s part of their local culture.

Tuesday’s Toro de La Vega festival was held with greatly reduced crowds. The rules were adhered to, there were no scuffles with activists and the bull was discreetly killed after the event — with its flesh sold as prime beef.

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