¡Vamanos a New Orleans!

When I joined the Rec League in winter of 2011, it was barely February before I started hearing rumblings about the NOLA Bulls event in July. Stories of derby love, amazing costumes, and hitting people with bats sounded like an amazing way to spend a Saturday morning in New Orleans.

Rec League Bulls

This year, I am excited to be a bull myself, but I was curious how the event got started. The organizers, or Los Pastores, were kind enough to answer a few questions for me.


1. How did NOLA Bulls get started?

In 2002, Mickey Hanning ran with the bulls in Pamplona. Five years later, while celebrating Mardi Gras day of 2007, Mickey came upon one of his friends dressed as a traditional correro or “bull runner” —with the white outfit, red sash and neckerchief. Mickey thought it would be a brilliant idea to start a bull run of sorts in New Orleans. He enlisted the help of his wife, Beth, a gallery manager and friends Tracey Bellina, a graphic designer and then Big Easy Rollergirl, and Dylan O’Donnell, a marketing director. The four called themselves the Nola Bulls and they feverishly began planning for the first ever San Fermin in Nueva Orleans.

2. What year was the first Encierro?

The first Encierro in New Orleans took place on July 7, 2007, at 8 a.m.—just a few months after the initial meeting.

2007 Encierro
 ©Jared Howerton, 2012

3. How many skaters participated in the first? How many runners?

There were only 13 skaters from the Big Easy Rollergirls and roughly 200 runners who participated in the first Encierro.

 ©Jared Howerton, 2012

4. How do you feel it has changed over the years?

One thing we never expected to happen was that the event would grow internationally so quickly. In the first year, the city of Pamplona recognized our event by running a story about it in the official town paper, Diario de Navarra. The Associated Press picked up the event the following year, and we made CNN’s Headline News. With every news article and YouTube video that ran, our small event escalated from one silly, fun Saturday to an all out 4-day festival that celebrates the rich (and important) Spanish history of New Orleans. As of 2011, we officially have the largest Encierro in the world. Over 400 roller girls come from over 30 leagues from as far away as Germany to participate in San Fermin in Nueva Orleans, as do the thousands upon thousands of runners. And because we work as a creative force, we are always working to find new ways to celebrate San Fermin.

After learning all of that, I am even more excited for the Encierro this year!

For more information, please head to http://www.nolabulls.com!

 ©Jared Howerton, 2012


About the author:
Jilly Hitzinger, #7-8, is a proud skater in the Texas Rollergirls Rec League. She saw her first derby bout in 2006 in New York City, and upon moving to the original home of roller derby, decided to take the plunge for herself. She thanks roller derby for teachng her new skills, dramatically increasing her Facebook friend count, and bringing the Pickleback into her life.


  1. Posted June 29, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Permalink


  2. Posted July 2, 2012 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    Great write-up, Jilly! I’m soooo excited about the Encierro! It will be first time being a San Fermin rollerbull and my first trip to NOLA! : D

  3. Posted July 2, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    Jilly, I can’t wait to smack some bull runners with ya! ~Culture

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