In spite of the devastation caused by the flood of the Caldera River during the month of November, the residents of Boquete joined their efforts to create the 37th Flower and Coffee Fair. This fair attracts visitors from all over Panama and other countries. Roberto Nuñez a Panamanian from Los Santos , wanted to visit the fair as he was curious to see how well residents were able to recoup after the flood.
Located in the beautiful region of Chiriqui, Boquete, is located at 480 km from Panama City and is surrounded by mountains. The climate is cool thus the ideal conditions to raise exquisite flowers and the best of coffees. Every year thousands of flower seeds are brought from the United States, Canada and France to be grown for a different showcase. This year, according Lisbeth Ferguson, a garden keeper, it was really difficult to have the Fair ready for January as the Caldera River inundated a great portion of the Fair grounds, taking away the flowers and coffee plants. She said that more than $7,000 was reinvested to buy new seeds. Furthermore, local farms helped out by building stalls and showcasing their own plants.
According to Israel Guerra, a Boquete resident, there were not as many orchids at the show as in previous years, but suggests that visitors will be able to enjoy these beautiful flowers during ‘ Expo Orquideas ‘ taking place in March and April.
Among the great number of national and foreign handicrafts that could be found were the autochthonous items called Nahuas and Chacaras made by the women of Gnobe Bugle tribe. The Nahuas are dresses, generally handmade, taking up to 15 days and priced from $25 to $60 depending on the size and design. The Chacaras are fabric bags made with threads of tree barks and painted with natural dyes extracted from fruits, roots and leaves. The prices vary from $3 to $25 depending on the size and design.
Boquete is known for its production of high quality coffees. After looking around, I found the Café Sitton and the Sohel Cafe stalls. Café Sitton is made of 100% Arabica beans, from high up in the mountains, and is one of the main coffee exports from Panama. They have won famous international prizes and awards for their product.
Café Sohel features two products cultivated in the fertile region of Alto Quiel.: Café Ngöbe, an Arabiga gourmet coffee cultivated by the Ngöbe Bugle indigenous tribe and Café Suárez, also an Arabiga gourmet coffee which was recently awarded the sixth place out of 33, at the Ninth contest of the Sampling of “Café Especial” by the Specialty Coffee Association.
Boquete’s 37th International Flower and Coffee Fair was a great success and an example on how things can happen when everyone pulls together. This year’s exposition brought in 100,514 visitors, 17,300 more than last year, representing the most visitors ever. The exhibition is looking forward to an even bigger success next year as they will have had the time to rebuild.