AS strawberry fields turn scarlet with the ripening of the berries, the 36th Strawberry Festival opened its Strawberry Lane on Monday, March 6.
The festival is a trade fair at the compound of the municipal hall offering strawberry-derived products, ranging from food, soaps and cosmetics, mixed with some stalls offering native products and crafts.
The festival runs the whole gamut characteristic of festivals—from a job fair (March 8 to 10); concert (March 6 and 31); fun run (March 11); dog show (March 11); and a contest for the biggest and sweetest strawberries (March 17); to beauty pageant (March 17) and a parade on March 18.
From here on, the main programs begin with an owik (a ritual of heart piercing of sacrificial pigs) and a multicultural celebration on March 18, with a street dance and float competition, together with the famous strawberry-cake fest the following day.
A highlight for the past Strawberry Festivals, the cakefest will come up with a giant cake that will serve 15,000 slices and will be baked by a collective of five bakeshops. But unlike in the past, where expenses were covered by sponsorship and thereby served free to the public, the cake this year will sell at P20 per slice to recover at least P275,000 of the P575,000 needed to bake the cake. The cake will start to be assembled on March 18 and finishing touches to be done on March 19. It is still expected to draw a large crowd, because the cake has a reputation for its tastiness.
Also, in 2004, La Trinidad was recognized in the Guinness Book of World Records for having baked the largest strawberry shortcake, and the community deems this year’s cake fest to be a celebration of that feat.
Another baking activity will be the Strawberry Cake Competition on March 21 that should encourage the continuous upgrading and innovation in strawberry-cake products.
A coffee summit will be held on March 22 as part of the efforts to promote the Arabica coffee industry in the area and as a follow-up activity to the setting up of the Coffee Pavilion on March 6, where seed-to-cup technologies are showcased. Baristas also showed coffee preparations and where free coffee was offered on March 6, an activity to be repeated on March 18.
Bloom Fest: a Coffee Festival will be on March 24, which features a competition with handsome prizes for the best Arabica coffee beans, where winners will also enjoy a contract purchase of their coffee beans, by giants in the food and coffee industry.
For the duration of the whole festival in the month of March, there will be concerts and a free showing of movies by local filmmakers at the Benguet Sports Complex.
Always a well-attended event is the dog show, this time dubbed Doggie Berry Show, where pet dogs will do a fashion show.
A true Benguet tradition that has endured through generation is the love of Ibaloys and first dwellers in the locality for horses. Dongba ni Kavadjo on March 25 will be an exhibition, games and competition of rodeos and horse riding.
Other sports during the festival will be motorcross, basketball, badminton, boxing, arnis, shooting, marathon and mixed-martial arts competitions.
The newest attraction is the Benguet Agri-Tourism and Cultural Village, a show window of the 13 Benguet towns at the Wangal Sports Complex. A Benguet agritourism tour takes one for strawberry picking the strawberry fields to the cultural village, and dining at the Marosan viewdeck and exit to Baguio passing through Longlong Road and see the beauty of La Trinidad Valley.