Sneaking a Peek at the Festa Da Desfornhada

After dinner on Saturday night in Guimarães, we passed by a restaurant named Histórico by Papaboa. Both entrances to its courtyard were brimming with people, piled up to watch what was going on inside, the Festa Da Desfolhada. Since there didn't seem to be any ticket-takers and the start time on the poster was three hours earlier, we simply excused ourselves through the wall of onlookers and checked it out for ourselves. With a few glasses of vinho verde in me and a video camera in my purse, what else is a girl to do?
Everyone seemed to be in clean up mode. Big straw brooms scratched away at the stone ground, batting corn husks over into an ever-growing pile. One man raked the cobs into a tray and then let another smack at them with something that resembled a long riding crop. It was obviously a traditional festival. The men wore straw hats and the women wore red headscarves and long skirts. A few children ran around, making sure (along with the still-playing band) that the festivities weren't completely over for the night.
"Desfolhada" means "leafless," but translates more perfectly to "husking" and that's what the festival is all about. It's a night of eating and drinking and husking corn. Evidence of all three filled the courtyard, even as things appeared to be wrapping up. The smell of food lingered in the air, the corn was still being dealt with and a man in a red-wine-stained shirt whirled his dance partner around and around.
A four piece band made up of three accordions and a tom tom drum played a folk tune on loop as couples spun and moved in circles around each other like a Teacups ride. The cleanup crew-cum-percussion section joined in with their straw on stone scratching and wood on corn thumping. As we stood there, we saw the revelers gain a second wind. Just when it all seemed to die down, a man in a blue polo shirt walked across the emptying square, clapped his hands a few times, struck a flamenco-esque pose and, somehow, roused people back to the dance floor. Singing started and cameras flashed. You can watch a little bit of it below. I warn you - the music's an earworm.
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