‘El Tío de la Porra’ is a fictional character who calls the celebration of the festivities in Gandía and other towns in its region, is considered a cultural heritage of Gandía and the Valencian Community.
It is the most beloved character by the ‘Gandienses’, with big nose and black glasses, has a great significance for children, as he takes them out of school and announces that the festivities have begun. This personage is an institution that has become habitual in the Fair and Festivity of Gandía. It represents a legendary herald announcing the festivities. He is represented as the head of a band of drums that, disguised in military uniforms of the nineteenth century, with glasses and false noses, cross the streets of the city on the first day of the fair to announce to everyone that have come the festivities. This tradition of a herald in disguise that announces the festivities is also represented in other towns of the region like Bellreguard, Ador and Oliva. But it is in Gandia where the tradition is more ingrained, in fact have taken the steps to include the character in the Valencian Catalog of Cultural Assets. The city already considers it Intangible Good of Local Relevance.
The origin of the personage is located in the Drum Major of the national militia of the capital of the Safor, inheriting of the Spanish regiments. Its mission was to be a transmitter of information between the government and the institutions of the walled Gandía of the nineteenth century. Between the news that communicated was the announcement of the festiovities. It also locates the birth of the ‘comparsas’ in an episode happened in the Old University, the Drum came to warn of the beginning of the celebrations and a group of students realized a ‘comparsa’ criticizing to the city council. This is the origin of ‘El Tio de la Porra’, which, to this day and since 1934, runs the schools to inform the start of the Fair and Festivity.
From September 29 to October 2 Gandia will celebrate the Fair and Festivity in honor of St. Francis of Borja. The major festivity of the city will continue with the same format of the last years, a model that bets on a participatory festivity that has its main stage in the street. The poster of this edition is a creation of the illustrator Maria Bañuls, and in it she emphasizes the figure of ‘El Tio de la Porra’ that, for the first time, is represented by a woman.