In Mauléon-Licharre, August 15th is not only synonymous with Assumption Day. It is also the festival of espadrilles. Each year, the event entertains several hundred people throughout the day. Some even come from very far away, like Jean Martin and his partner Beatrice, who came from Forbach in the Moselle. “We’re on vacation in Pau and we couldn’t help…
In Mauléon-Licharre, August 15th is not only synonymous with Assumption Day. It is also the festival of espadrilles. Each year, the event entertains several hundred people throughout the day. Some even come from very far away, like Jean Martin and his partner Beatrice, who came from Forbach in the Moselle. “We’re on vacation in Pau and can’t avoid detouring to Mauléon to buy sneakers,” says Jean-Martin, with three pairs in hand, “two for me and one for Madame.”
The Espadrille Festival was born in 1992 at the initiative of local companies such as Prodiso and Armaïté, as well as Mauléon-Licharre City Hall. On the same date, the manufacturer Armaïté established, precisely, the world record for the largest espadrilles: girth 300, or almost two meters long. After 31 years, the Idaux-Mendy company is once again in the spotlight. After leaving Megam in Béarn, she was given the heavy task of running a sneaker-making workshop on the Place des Allées. Either, the allure of the day coupled with representing Basque power and pelota championships, not to mention racing in sneakers in the morning.
So many feelings
Beneath the great tent erected for the occasion, and before astonished eyes, scores of little hands are handling cotton and jute, the chief materials for the design of espadrilles. This team is led by Pascal Pereira with her husband, Victor. At the beginning of the twenty-first centuryH In the last century, he took the helm from Armand and Maitie, Pascal’s parents, whose first name association gave its name to the company, which was born in 1979. “There are a lot of feelings because it was my father and my mother who created the Fête de l’espadrille. Very touched,” says Pascal Pereira. , “Today, they are no longer there, and there is no escaping it, as I think of them.”
“It is important for us to be there. It gives us vision.”
Throughout the day, she and her husband strive to perpetuate the family heritage by explaining to curious passers-by the different stages of espadrille design. “It is important for us to be there. It gives us vision. It is not easy for us to live in the face of unfair competition from Spain, Portugal and even Bangladesh. Here, we can show everyone our knowledge,” says Victor Pereira.
900 pairs per day
Each day Armaïté could manufacture up to 900 espadrilles, for an annual total of between 150,000 and 180,000. This total was not reached this Tuesday, August 15th. It must be said that it is difficult to focus on hundreds of people. “At this rate, we’re not going to make it obvious,” says a female employee, laughing as she sees a co-worker debating.
Success is on the way. After the workshop, passersby head to the shop where they come out with their hands full. This is the case of Porto, with three pairs of sneakers in his bag. Not to mention the other couple her daughter bought. “Usually, that’s enough for a year,” laughs the person who has set a date for next year.