Growing up in Texas, we always looked forward to the state fair. The rides! The food on a stick! The carnival barkers shilling every kind of kitchen gadget! And Big Tex, high in the sky, with his booming “Howdy, Folks!”
Boquete is currently putting on its own version, the Feria de los Flores y del Café (Flower and Coffee Fair). It’s the biggest event on the Boquete civic calendar, and it’s expected to draw 150,000 people over its 10-day run. That’s a lot of folks and cars cramming into our little pueblo! And last week President Varela was even in attendance – he’d come to town to dedicate Boquete’s shiny new public market.
The Feria is really not that different from the Texas State Fair – at least, if it existed in an alternate universe. No Big Tex here, but there are plenty of larger-than-life birds, insects, and other colorfully sculpted beings. Meat on a stick and carnival barkers? Check. Flowers and coffee, claro que si. But the Feria has other surprises that you probably won’t see in any U.S. state fair: walk-up bars everywhere serving rum drinks (such cruelty for these January teetotalers!), an impromptu zipline set up by Boquete Tree Trek, and at least four LARGE portable discotheques with laser lights blazing. Although we left before things really got going, our friends who live closer to town tell us that these discos go ALL NIGHT, and they’re loud. It’s probably not the best time to visit Boquete if you’re looking for peace and quiet.
We loved our visit to the Feria and were once again blown away by the friendly Panamanian families and their love of celebration. Everyone young and old was having the time of their lives, and their joy was infectious!