In Panamá: La Feria de las Flores y el Café

The Flower and Coffee Fair in Boquete, a mountain town in the western province of Chiriqui, is a ten-day celebration.  It has taken place on the banks of the Caldera River for the last 66 years.  Barry and I got to experience the fair this year:

fair - flowers

View from the Boquete bridge over the Caldera River- looking into the fair grounds

The fair includes flowers from the United States and Europe, coffee tasting, two zip lines crossing the fair, and a pavilion with artisans from all over Panamá and abroad showing and selling their wares.  Folkloric groups from Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, and, of course, Panamá perform on the main stage.  Popular musicians and singers show off their skills.  Dancing and music go into the early morning hours.  More than 150,000 visitors attended this year from January 14-24, 2016.   La Feria de las Flores y del Café started in 1950 as a coffee festival organized by the community for the community.  It has grown.

La Feria includes   –

fair vendors2

You can buy – piña coladas -and piña Hawaiian drinks

Fair - buy


fair vendors

Balloons – from a clown

fair me

Me – with fair flowers

fair flowers

Fair flowers of many colors

A major part of the fair is to showcase entertainers –

fair dancers

Traditional dancers perform in beautiful costumes – the Panamanian pollera

According to El Visitante Enero 14-20, 2016, “The Pollera is the national female costume of Panama.  There are different variations, according to the region.  They are also classified based on their use such as the Pollera de Gala for formal occasions and the Montuna which is the simple country version for everyday us use.

A single pollera can cost from several hundred to several thousands of dollars and take up to a year to create.  The gold and pearl mosquetetas and tembleques, [the headdresses,]  that accessorize pollera are generally passed down as heirlooms through generations” (4).  They can also be made of wire and imitation pearls.

fair costumes

Hair ornaments are beautiful too

fair costume prep

Getting ready for a performance

fair constume prep2

Dancers wearing their tembleques


dancers red

Caribbean dancers in red


dancers in white.jpg

dancer boy

Panamanian male costume

dancer kiss

In the audience, there is much to notice too

sleeping baby

An audience of all ages

striped dancers

Dancers with stripped Polleras


feria famlies

Families attend – 150,000 + people this year

fair juice

Freshly squeezed orange juice for sale

fair eat

Empanada lines

coati fair

A painted coati – at the fair

At night, the fair has much entertainment and action too.

singer night

On the main stage, we enjoyed several singers.

sincere singer night

A sincere Panamanian singer

night cute dancers

Cute, agile, modern dancers

PR singer dancers

International singer from Puerto Rica and his backup salsa dancers.

splits dancers night

Backup dancers and band

on-stage dancers night

Audience members came on stage to dance the salsa – including the Boquete Economic Development officials

The performances on this stage when on until about midnight.  However, there was still much to experience at the fair.  Two sections had dancing late into the night.

We could eat again too:

meat vendors night

Smoky meats, hamburgers, hot dogs, . . . the vendors had what most people wanted

hats flautist

We listened to the indigenous flautist. Notice the cute warm hats for sale behind him.

family night

Families congregate

family mule

boy - night

Some last longer than others at the fair


Coffee tasting.  Ngöbe-Buglé family in the center.

And what about us?  We ran into our Boquete friends, Suzie and Russ.  We hung out with them talking late  – until 3a.m. to be exact!  The fair makes you want to stay up and have fun.  Maybe you will attend La Feria de las Flores y Café next year.

Adiós, Renée




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About reneeriley

Our blog was begun as a way to share our experiences in China. From August 2010 to July 2011, my husband, Barry Kristel, and I were at our University of Hawaii Maui College sister school, Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University in Lin'an, China, a city considered rural because it has only 500,000 people! We had a wonderful time. Then in February 2012, we returned to teach this time at our other sister school, Shanghai Normal University, in a city of over 21 million people. We've made many discoveries. Did you know that now Chinese girls, at least the ones who go to university, for the most part feel they are luckier than the Chinese boys? Did you know that Shanghai saved over 20,000 European Jews during WWII? Do you know how Chinese university students would deal with problems that come up in Dear Abby letters? What's it like to be on the Great Wall of China? Do you know how many Chinese girls had their feet bound and why? And we have recipes from many of the places we've visited. Among others, you can find instructions on how to fry cicadas from one of my ZAFU students and how to make chocolate-Kahlua waffles from my brother Mike in Gainesville. You can also look back to our earliest entry to see what we experienced in Oaxaca, Mexico, in 2006 during the mainly peaceful six months of protest until the Mexican government sent in the troops. Between our stays in China, Barry and I have been on the Mainland U.S. visiting family, friends and Servas hosts as we traveled home to Maui. We share those experiences too. Welcome to our blog! Aloha and Zài Jiàn, Renée and Barry

One response to “In Panamá: La Feria de las Flores y el Café”

  1. Rosita says :

    I loved those photos!!! Those flowers are beautiful! And the coati…weh, it look more like an elephant than a coati 😉 I would like to know a less crowded Caribbean, as Trinidad & Tobago or Turks & Caicos (although the second option is much more expensive for me and will take a long time to occur…..), and do you know that here on Brazil we HAVE a piece of Caribbean? Yes, we have a piece of Caribbean here, although it isn’t divulged by international (and badly by national) midia, but it’s an idyllic place to those who want to visit Caribbean, although can’t go out of Brazil, for any reason, like the devaluation of our national money, and it’s as idyllic as some Caribbean destinies, as Punta Cana, Bahamas or even Trinidad & Tobago and have so much good options of hotels, even one of best all-inclusives in all Latin America: Salinas de Maragogi, although it’s pretty expensive…. But no worries, there are other options of hotels (and less expensive), thankfully, because I wouldn’t stay on a very luxurious (and expensive) place due to its price 😦 Our Brazilian piece of Caribbean is located at Costa dos Corais (literally “Coral Coast” in Portuguese), who’s world’s SECOND LARGEST coral barrier, in Alagoas state, losing only for the Great Coral Barrier on Queensland state, in Australia. Three examples (or small pieces of paradise) of Costa dos Corais are: Maceió (the Alagoan capital), São Miguel dos Milagres (a small fishermen village who looks like Caribbean) and the pearl of pearls: Maragogi, the paradise on Earth. Could you imagine a place where both French Polynesia and Caribbean unite in only one place? If yes, it’s located on Maragogi, an unique place on Earth, which I could recommend that, if you want to visit Brazil, put maragogi in your bucket list and you wouldn’t regret! Sadly, i never visited Costa dos Corais neither Alagoas state, but it’s on my bucket list 😀 I would like also to visit Bali.. What do you think about Bali? It’s true that kuta region should be avoided? do you want to visit Gili islands?

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