THE NATIONAL FESTIVAL OF THE MEJORANA
SEPTEMBER 23RD -27TH
By Genesis Diaz Mendieta
Guararé is a quite town situated in the centre of the southern Panamanian peninsula in the province of Los Santos. For almost 51 weeks of the year it seems as if nothing happens in this quite sleepy town. However, on the last week of September the town springs into action starting with the old thatched houses all painted in white with blue, green or brown. A market suddenly appears selling everything from Sancocho for three balboas to hats for 400 balboas to the traditional skirt ‘the pollera’ for as much as 5000 balboas and more.
In the streets you can meet people from all over the country who have arrived as visitors or as participants. It seems like everything and everyone from Panama centers at this point in the town, bringing with them, their language and dialects, their dances, their music, their instruments and their national identity.
Of course we are describing the biggest traditional cultural event in the country, the National Festival of the Mejorana. The event was created by Professor Manuel F. Zárarte in 1949, it is now known as the National festival of Cultural Traditions.
The Festival was created as a dedication to Our Lady of Mercy, the local patron saint, and to feature the traditional string instrument known as the mejorana, including the accordion, the violin and the traditional drum.
The weekend is the time most anticipated by all! Saturday night September the 26th, participants from all around the country will display their costumes, dances and music. On Sunday there will be the biggest parade with oxcarts all decorated with traditional themes and made with all natural materials. That day the town is bursting at the seams with the number of people that are participating at the event or just as visitors.
The organization’s board in charge of the administration of the National Festival of the Mejorana is composed of 12 members representing various institutions. The participation of these members is voluntary and unpaid, they are appointed for a period of two years and may be re-elected for several consecutive terms.
We would like to welcome you to come and appreciate the experience of the whole of Panama centered in one place, in the beautiful town of Guararé where young and old celebrate their traditional cultural customs that makes up the rich diversity of Panama.