Wednesday, May 2, 2007

75. Flame Tree Arts Festival

This post is for those not in Saipan, and those who are here but somehow missed this annual event in 2007. (Fools, all!)

The Flame Tree Arts Festival was held from April 26 through the 30th. This year it was staged at Kilili Beach/Civic Center. You can see some great photos at the Saipan Tribune fotogalleria (pull down menu to 26th Annual Flame Tree...) here .

My own (less fabulous) photos are below. Creative commons license applies to all photos here.
We had fabulous weather-perfect temperatures in the low to mid- 80's with cooling breezes. The flame trees were (are) in bloom, so Beach Road on the way to the festival was lined with their vivid orangesand red blossoms.

Parking was no problem --with available spaces at the beach, at the court, at the gym and in front of the Multipurpose Center. DPS had set up orange cones to create additional pedestrian crosswalks for those parking across from the beach site. There didn't seem to be traffic jams or problems in the transit department.
The festival seemed smaller this year, with fewer booths, but each one had something wonderful to offer. The food booths were aggregated in one area, and there were very few of those. The arts booth and the agriculture/vegetable booths created a lane from the stage area all the way to the old Senate. And at least one enterprising person had avoided the cost of the festival booth entrance and just set up shop in the pala-pala by the playground!

So let's enter a booth at the festival:

The fine art of the nap! This booth was lovely, with lava-lavas and flower garlands keeping the interior shaded and fragrant.

After shopping around the many booths, I found three large-ticket items I wanted to buy (besides all the small things-like crocheted hats from Ms. Soll and photos of the old Coca-Cola bottles along the road from Whispering Palms School). My three BIG favorites were the sand paintings from Rota--large scale, beautiful local subjects, original and well-executed (but at $500 each, out of my budget); the Palau story board carving technique applied to the Chamorro icon of a latte stone-rich mahogany color, intricate carving, Marianas and Palau mix-just marvelous (but at $250, I was still feeling nervous); and one painting by Rino Obar of a woman weaving pandanus, done in oil on canvas, with light coming through a door into the dark tin house, a boonie dog watching (at $120, this was my choice). [The image below is a photographed version, but the original is much darker, with the light more captivating.)

The best part of the arts festival, though, in my opinion, is the non-stop entertainment. I listened to the Falun Dafa lead us through meditations, watched the Talabwogh dancers perform the Maas, enjoyed the Korean fan dances, Te Kanahau Nui's Tahitian dances, the popular Island Cruisers-renamed Northern Star-band performing old standards & local favorites, and Glushko's excited students prance and dance in their tutus. That was just Saturday afternoon and evening! On Sunday, I listened to more talented residents singing and playing as I sat at the beach, reading a novel! Ah, live entertainment.

Here's a little glimpse through my lens.

This is the long view of the stage, with flags waving in the breeze and the (Talabwogh?) Maas dancers on stage. Notice their woven basket in front. Wild women and a few children ran up to stuff it with money and spray the dancers with perfume. I love Refaluwasch style!

The stage, with Flame Tree blossoms and bamboo.

Korean fan dancers (from a gospel ministry!)

Te Kanahau Nui dancers.

This skirt is made of fern leaves from the boonies in Marpi, with a ti leaf hipster. Notice the drawstring -packing ties. Standard coconut bra!

Hope you enjoyed the glimpse. I love festival season and am looking forward to Taste of the Marianas.


Lex said...

Hi. Just wanted to point out that those Refaluwasch dancers are not Talabwogh nor are they from Talabwogh but a group mostly from Chalan Lau Lau and Oleai named Longowofisch. Love the pictures =)

Saipan Writer said...

Thanks for the clarification. (I wasn't sure, which is why I'd put the id with a question mark in parens).