They were not afraid of the rain, both the participants and the visitors of the 6th Olechotel Belau Fair (OBF). When it fell, everybody ran for shelter but when the rain stopped, everybody continued on just like a deluge did not happen at all, an indication that nothing could hinder the people from enjoying the two-day event last Sunday and Monday.
Guests had a superb time visiting booths of participating states and private sectors, taking their fill of the rich culture and displays of each. Business was brisk as guests bought goodies and products as soon as they land at the display tables. Guests grabbed the chance to see, hear, smell and taste Palau's traditional to contemporary dances, music, and foods in what could be lumped as a “superb” celebration.
One of the unique features of this year’s OBF is the participation of neighboring islands which added more color to the festivities. Yap’s dancers in their colorful costumes and their weavers attracted a large number of people, while Guam’s booth offered unique services, like massage, a “cartoon-yourself” corner where a guest poses while an artist draws his or her caricature, breast enlargement services (this raised a lot of eyebrows) and an array of Guam’s traditional and contemporary products.
Palau Visitors Authority (PVA) Community & Support Services Manager Anna Hideo said that moving the OBF schedule to July proved to be perfect because it resulted into a great turnout of participants, even if the activities were held in different venues. This year’s theme is “Belau Oudiukes” (Palau’s Rich Cultural Heritage).
Among the highlights of the event were visual exhibition and presentation of performing arts participated in mostly by the younger generation. This included weaving, jewelry and body ornaments like the tattooing which resulted to children running around with differently-designed tattoos on their faces, flora competition, display and presentation of local medicinal plants, film viewing, Palauan pottery exhibition and literary art. There was also a presentation of performing arts like music solo contest, group singing contest, traditional chanting, story telling, food wrapping contest, traditional sports, men and women traditional dances.
PVA managing director Darin de Leon said the island can expect more participation for the OBF next year, even as far as Japan because plans are underway to make this event open not only for Micronesian Islands but in other places as well. All in all, it was the best OBF ever held, thanks to the joint effort of the Community and Cultural Affairs office and the PVA.