Posted by: luisabaldwin | January 17, 2010


NOTE: Click on pictures to enlarge

Every January

The Feria sits next to the River Caldera

What can I say?  The Christmas season simply wasn’t enough. The festivities just never seem to stop.  For eleven days in January, Boquete gears up for an influx of 10,000 – 20,000 Panamanians.  They bus local Panamanians in from all over the country for the annual Flower and Coffee Festival.

Next to the River Caldera, the Feria is in full bloom

For months, the local townspeople plant flower beds at the Feria by the river.  They paint the buildings, (this year a bright pink!) clean up the grounds, and begin populating a bunch of little buildings on the fair grounds with vendors of all sorts.

Having finally recovered from Christmas, we decided to join the crowds to see what this festival was all about.  After all, we haven’t had quite enough adventures yet…  Well, you can never get enough of those.  The spice of life as it were.  The town was not too congested with cars and we easily found a parking space although as we approached the fair grounds it became quite populated with people surging onward towards the fair grounds.

It's amazing how they get the whole thing blooming at the same time!

The Kuna Yala Indians, being the great entrepreneurs that they are, came all the way up from the San Blas Islands and lined the outside of the grounds with little kiosks selling all their hand-made wares.

Upon entering the Feria, we encountered more vendors selling everything from trinkets to clothes, shoes, hammocks, plants, flowers, and food.  Everybody was buying!  It was one big shopping spree and we weren’t exempt.  We found a great “made in Colombia” hat made by the Montana Hat Company – go figure.

Big Daddy Jim and his new look

That was about all we were good for since shopping isn’t our forte.  So we went outside to get something to drink and encountered two Peruvian Andes Indian groups that had come up from Peru to play their beautiful bamboo flutes.  The music was mesmerizing and transformed everybody gathered around.

Peruvian Mountain Indian Musician

Upon looking around, we encountered people with gentle smiles and tears of joy in their eyes.  The flutist was playing with his soul!  Some things in South and Central America are just so sweet!

Everybody was having a great time.

A Peruvian Bamboo Flute Band

The brightly decorated kiosks sold everything from cotton candy to pineapple pieces to fruit smoothies.  Guess where the lines were?  Well, interestingly enough, they weren’t at the cotton candy.  The Panamanians were lined up for slices of pineapple and fruit smoothies!  There were very few blond-headed tourists about. This festival is truly a local event.  And speaking about local events, I never did tell you about the other festivals and parades that this town has sponsored starting in October.  I guess it’s because we never got to the parades, although we did get stuck in traffic for quite a while one day when the road was closed down, as was everything else.  And speaking of festivals, it was delightful to find out that Mother’s Day is a national holiday in Panama.  All the shops are closed and it’s celebrated with almost the same importance as Christmas.

We were very fortunate to have caught this special event

We were really lucky to have arrived at just the right time to watch the young ladies dressed up in their beautiful hand made dresses, passed down from generation to generation.  They lit up the stage with their innocent smiles and beautiful hair decorations.  These dresses are called “La pollera de Gala” and are the national dresses of Panama.  Made up of miles of fabric, unique contiguous design through the mountains of pleats, and delicate, intricate lace borders.  The traditional head pieces are made from gold, pearls, and precious stones.  They were inspired by the grand and elegant old days of Spain.

This young lady 's natural beauty turned many heads!

Don’t quote me on this but I could swear I heard the announcer say that this was the dance to find a husband.  Isn’t that sweet?  And I did see some young men doing quite a bit more than a double take for one of these young ladies was just simply beautiful beyond belief.

The Dance to Find a Husband

Well, that was a lot of fun and I’m glad I was able to capture some pictures for your enjoyment.  This costume dancing is an old Panamanian tradition that I had read about and I felt fortunate to have encountered it.

For ten days the party continues on well past the closing of the festival grounds where wild abandon and unrestrained merriment intensifies in the bars and restaurants as the corks are popped out of the bottles and wine flows freely until four in the morning. This, of course, causes the local x-pat town dwellers to become grumpy and complain about the noise.  Of course, it does no good.  The party must go on.

The grounds were beautifully landscaped

Up here on the finca, however, we have been sleeping peacefully through the night and wake up to Max the rooster and the melodious chirps of exotic birds.  It’s a good thing for we were not of a mind to partake of the wild abandon part of the festivities.  We like waking up clear-headed.  We’ll leave that for the younger generations.

Photography by:
Luisa Baldwin
© All rights reserved



  1. Thank you for sharing the party! This was my introduction to Panama–clearly a beautiful and charming part of the world.

    • You’re welcome Susan. Are you still here?

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