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From 19th till to 21th may
Elisabeth Park
In front of the Basilica of Koekelberg
Koekelberg - Sanlúcar de Barrameda
Since 1 June 1999 the municipalities of Koekelberg and Sanlúcar de Barrameda (Cadiz) have seen their bond strengthened after the signing of the twinning agreement.

Following the success of the 1997 Feria, jointly organised by the Peña Arte y Cultura de Andalucía de Bruselas (PACA) and the Koekelberg municipality, Mr Frederico Gallo, Chairman of PACA and Mr Jean-Pierre De Keyn, Koekelberg’s Alderman for Europe, asked the “Junta of Andalusia” in Brussels to find a potential partner for Koekelberg in Andalusia.

Sanlúcar de Barrameda: The story of a twinning
The beginning, as often happens, was not easy. The project required planning and above all someone of high rank capable of carrying it out. Mrs Concha Gutiérrez, then representativeof the “Junta of Andalusia” in Brussels, was asked to select the town best suited to this project and to obtain European subventions in order to achieve the twinning between the two. She was assisted by Mrs Claudia Zafra, then Deputy Cultural Adviser to the Junta who was seeking new funds in order to develop this project.

The town they eventually selected was Sanlúcar de Barrameda, located on the north-western coast of the province of Cadiz, near the mouth of the Guadalquivir River, and adjoining the National Park of Doñana.

Why Sanlúcar of Barrameda?
When asked, Mr Jean-Pierre De Keyn, Koekelberg’s Alderman for Europe, replied that Sanlúcar had the technical know-how necessary to organise an authentic festival. The “Feria of Sanlúcar” was a well established institution and much more than an international celebration of music, wine and horses. Moreover, Sanlúcar borders on the superb nature reserve of Doñana and is drenched in the beaming sunshine that so many people long for.

Mr Frederico Gallo, former Chairman of the PACA and current Chairman of the EuroFeria Andaluza, explained that the twinning was essentially a gesture of friendship between the two municipalities. He added “This twinning will allow us to preserve the Andalusian spirit of  the EuroFeria, premise of this typically Spanish event”.

An invitation: The EuroFeria Andaluza of Brussels; A project: The twinning with an Andalusian locality; A town: Sanlúcar de Barrameda. On 17 November 1998, during the preparatory meeting of the EuroFeria ’98, the twinning was announced to the Organising Committee and its participants: “Koekelberg and Sanlúcar will become twinned”.

The first contact between the two municipalities, key to later agreements, took place at the beginning of 1998, with the visit of Mr Jean-Pierre De Keyn and Mr Frederico Gallo to Sanlúcar de Barrameda. There they were received by Mr Agustin Cuevas Batista, then Mayor of Sanlúcar. At that time Mrs Bárbara Castañuela and Mr Pedro Grimaldi were respectively Alderwoman and Head of the Press Cabinet of Sanlúcar.

Proof of the friendship between the parties was the entry of candidates from Sanlúcar in the “Eurocontacts ‘98” competition for design and photography, organised since 1996 by the Mayor and Aldermen of Koekelberg. The first prize was awarded to Natalia Perez, a 9 year-old from Sanlúcar, for a drawing of the Guadalquivir River with horses.

On their second visit (22-24 May 1998), they enjoyed meeting the President of the Andalusia Junta, Mr Manuel Chaves, discovered the Manzanilla Fair and visited the Barbadillo Warehouses. Various personalities from Brussels have subsequently had the opportunity of visiting Sanlúcar and have been warmly welcomed there.

In order to strengthen the existing connection, on June 11 of that same year, various personalities from Sanlúcar visited Brussels to attend the EuroFeria ’98. On this initial visitthe first signatures were made to the twinning agreement between Koekelberg and Sanlúcar which took place on Saturday, 13 June 1998 at Koekelberg Town Hall in the Belgian Capital.

It was a whole year, however, before the second set of signatures was added on 1 June 1999, in Sanlúcar Town Hall, during the visit of a Koekelberg delegation (29 May - 3 June).

The connections made between the municipalities, reinforced by this twinning agreement, made for valuable human, commercial and cultural contacts.

Every year some of Koekelberg’s inhabitants visit their twin town, and thereby create deep personal ties.

Today the ties uniting Sanlúcar de Barrameda and Koekelberg are being further extended thanks to Mr Juan Rodriguez Romero, current Mayor of Sanlúcar (year 2000) and Mr Jean-Pierre De Keyn, Koekelberg’s Alderman for Europe.

© 2006 EuroFeria Andaluza a.s.b.l.