Day of the Rafters The public festival of the Noguera Pallaresa river
Going down the river on a raft.. CC BY 2.0 - CDC / Flickr
Since 1979, every first weekend of July, the Associació de Raiers de la Noguera Pallaresa (Association of Rafters of the Noguera Pallaresa River) take advantage of it being the time of year when the water is at its lowest to celebrate the Diada dels Raiers or Day of the Rafters. This day serves to honour this ancient profession dedicated to river transport that historically was very important for the economy of Pallars.
The timber rafting was a hard and risky profession, which consisted of transporting wood from the Pyrenees to the coastal plains, taking advantage of the flow of the rivers using rafts. The great popular festival, which recalls this trade, begins with the construction of these traditional river craft: the logs – placed next to each other – the oak cross pieces, the birch binding, the rudders and the two oars that allow the raft to be steered. Finally, there are the living quarters where all the kit is hung up, in other words the dry clothes, food and the barrel of wine.
On Sunday morning the main event takes place: the descent of the rafts along the Noguera Pallaresa river. From 11 am, the rafters, dressed in vintage clothes, cover the 5 kilometre stretch between the Llania dam and the Claverol bridge. Lots of people line the river banks and, at the arrival point, there is plenty of music and the traditional association lunch to close the day.
In 2003, the national Day of the Rafters was declared a Traditional Festival of National Interest and each year thousands of people come together to keep the memory of this traditional craft alive.
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During the weekend of the festival, activities related to the rafting trade are held, such as the Barranqueig Competition (driving logs down the river) or the awarding of the Ganxa d’Or (Golden Hook), a prize that recognises individuals and institutions that have contributed to the act of rafting.