About 5 years ago, I traveled to New Orleans with an old friend after a long night out in Baton Rouge. We hit I10 around 6 A.M., arriving back into the city around 7 A.M. As you can imagine, this is normally reserved for two types of people: those ending their nights extremely late or those early morning people ready to jump-start another day.
To our amazement, we stumbled upon a group of roller girls bashing a group of runners, all appeared to be a tad bit intoxicated. Both the runners and the roller girls were dressed up in red and white, carrying ice chests, radios, bats, drinks, and anything to be as extra as possible. This was my introduction to NOLA’s “Running of The Bulls.”
The Running of The Bulls, NOLA Style
New Orleans’ Spanish roots are as old as the city itself. The city alternated between Spanish and French rule from 1718 to 1803. We still have tons of Spanish roots here in the city, including most of the architecture in the French Quarter. Another good example of these roots is the Running of Bulls at San Fermin in Nueva Orleans, Friday through Sunday (July 12-14).
“Founded in 2007 by Mickey Hanning, aka “El Padrino,” and his wife, Beth Hanning, the event is an homage to the Encierro of Pamplona in Spain. This religious festival originated in 1592 to honor St. Fermin, the patron saint of the city located in the Basque region.”
There is one event during that weekend that is known across the world: the Running of the Bulls. The event originated as a was to move the bulls from the corral to the bullfighting ring, while children and adults herded them with shouts and sticks. Over the course of a few decades, the bulls and humans switched spots, and the event took off on the global stage. Now, thousands of tourists flocking to Spain to participate each year.
Mickey Hanning participated in the Encierro in 2002 and loved the event so much, he decided he needed to form something like it in New Orleans.
But how could you do a “Running of the Bulls” in South Louisana?
The Hannings actually had something in mind. They enlisted “RollerBulls,” members of roller derby leagues from all over the country. This included our very own “Big Easy Rollergirls.”
“When we included the idea of replacing the raging bulls with Roller Derby ladies on skates, people just had to see that! People love any reason to get dressed up and drunk.”
– Mickey Hanning
The event is now in its 13 year, a remarkable number after 12 years of success. The festivities start the day before the race with the Running of The Bulls pre-party at the Sugar Mill. This is where participants pick up their race number and enjoy an open bar and live music.
This year’s race starts at 8 a.m. The start and finish lines are located at the Sugar Mill where an air-conditioned after-party will take place with food, drink, and music from DJ Brass and Morning 40 Federation. Even if you don’t plan to race, this is not an event to miss out on. Head to the CBD and grab an early brunch to watch all of the shenanigans unfold.
Get a full look at the weekend’s events below. You can also look to get last minute tickets here!
Friday (July 12): 5-9 p.m. Kick-off party and benefit for Beth’s Friends Forever and Big Easy Animal Rescue. Located at the Sugar Mill (1021 Convention Center Blvd).
Saturday (July 13): El Encierro (the Run). 6:30 am, run starts at 8 am. Begins and ends at the Sugar Mill.