May 27, 2024

After two years, the 41st Strawberry Festival in La Trinidad, Benguet was launched last week with limited events and participants highlighting the town’s recovery efforts from the pandemic.
This year’s celebration centers on the theme: “Cultivating the seeds of recovery.”
Mayor Romeo Salda said farmers are slowly getting back to growing strawberries as the local economy is slowly recovering with the resumption of tourism activities such as the strawberry picking at the town’s swamp area and various private-owned agri-eco farms located in barangays Shilan, Bahong, Alno, and Alapang, among other areas.
Many strawberry farmers shifted into other cash crops such as lettuce during the community quarantine to keep them afloat.
Salda thanked the Benguet State University for recently providing the farmers tissue-cultured strawberry seedlings as planting materials. 
“We have already requested the Department of Agriculture, through Secretary William Dar for the importation of new seedlings for strawberry production,” Salda said.
Despite this, the supply of strawberries is still enough for tourists and the locals. Since most farmers recently planted strawberries, there would be a supply for April in time for the summer when tourists are expected to visit.
The festival also showcases the town’s products through the strawberry lane, which features 21 booths that offer different products made from strawberry as well as handcrafted products of local artists and artisans.
La Trinidad Tourism Officer Valred Olsim said they pushed for the opening of the strawberry lane for the various micro, small, and medium enterprises in the town, whose sales are affected due to the pandemic. 
“We could also see that the community misses the celebration of the festival. There are days where the seats at the strawberry lane are full but then we still need to manage the crowd,” Olsim said.
Entrepreneur Betty Dapiaoen who operates Yvonne’s food products said the invitation to take part in the festival is a relief to them.
Dapiaoen said despite the still limited number of people buying at the Strawberry Lane, they are able to test the flow of their business during the festival.
The strawberry lane is open until March 31 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the municipal park.
As part of the tourism promotion in the municipality, the Kavadjo shi La Trinidad (horseback riding) is set on March 26 in Tawang.
The route for horseback riding will be from Mt. Yangbew to Tayawan Heights.
The Strawberry Festival was first celebrated in 1981 and was institutionalized in 2011 to be a yearly event in the municipality. – Ofelia C. Empian