June 14, 2024
STRAWBERRY FESTIVAL 2023 — This year’s Strawberry Festival was highlighted with the presentation of the eight-foot twin strawberry cake that was served to thousands of residents and visitors on weekend. The twin cake was made of 275 kilos of Sweet Charlie and Snow White strawberry varieties baked by Apple Blossom Bakery, Badu Cakes, Ad’Laine Bakeshop and Menchie’s Bakery. Earlier, the 16 barangays in the capital town paraded their respective floats as students dominated the grand street dance parade. — Ofelia Empian

The sound of revelry and festivity filled the streets of La Trinidad, Benguet as residents and tourists celebrated the highlights of the Strawberry Festival on March 18.
The public enjoyed watching the grand float and street dancing parade featuring the 16 barangays, civil society organizations, and the students, as they performed from Km. 6 to 5.
The small float parade showcased the creativity of the barangay participants as seen in the flower-filled and colorful “Valley of Colors” float category while the resourcefulness in using recycled materials were seen in the pro-environment category.
Barangay Bahong’s jeepney-themed float showcased its red roses lining the text “Rose Capital of the Philippines” with white chrysanthemums while Beckel’s detail-oriented float showed not only flowers but also a big rattan basket full of vegetables and if seen closely, a coffee set with cups and pot of ground coffee beans, with a young lass and lad in ethnic attire seated atop the float.
Colorful carpet of flowers with pots of strawberries was also seen in the floats of Barangays Pico, Ambiong, Puguis, and Wangal.
Two floats also featured a distinct open hand in their design with Barangay Alapang’s valley of colors float showing a hand holding a strawberry, which was presented through red and green chrysanthemums while Balili’s pro-environment float, showed a hand holding a seedling along with recycled plastic bottles and caps.
Other barangays that showcased their pro-environment float and ingenuity were Shilan whose float was pulled by a strong set of women in ethnic garb while the floats of Lubas, Betag, Tawang, and Alno were also pulled manually, and the only the horse-pulled float was that of Poblacion.
Municipal Tourism Officer Valred Olsim said all the floats were either pulled manually or using horses to stay true to the festival’s aim of being pro-environment.
Performers, meanwhile, entertained revelers with the drum and lyre and street dancing categories which gave their interpretation of this year’s theme, “A festival for recovery: Building a brighter future from adversities.”
The municipality’s premiere product, strawberry, was the central figure seen in all the performances with some performers borrowing from nearby Baguio City’s Panagbenga props of sunflowers, the latter also being grown (the commercial kind) and growing (the wild variety) in the town.
Winners for the float and street dancing will be announced during the closing program on March 31 at the town’s gym. 
The main event was not complete without the twin large strawberry cake that was served after lunch on March 18.
Residents and visitors did not mind lining up to get a taste of the strawberry cake which has a height of 7.8 feet by 12.8 feet and a diameter of 5.7 feet.
The giant twin cakes were baked with two varieties of strawberry – the red and white strawberries; the latter a recently introduced variety called the snow white and milky way. 
The red strawberry, Sweet Charlie, is the more traditional variety which has been produced in the municipality and known for its sweet taste. The Snow White variety has a crunchier flesh and tangy taste. 
A total of 16,000 slices were availed during the event with the first 1,000 slices given away for free while the 15,000 were sold for P30 per slice.
Members of the association of La Trinidad Bakers, namely Nonette Balao of Apple Blossom Bakery, Janyne Ducusin of Badu Cakes, Adelaine Dormiendo of Ad’Laine Bakeshop, and Normancita Obar of Menchie’s Bakery baked the large strawberry cake.
The strawberry giant cake was first baked in 2002 and followed by the twin giant strawberry cake in 2003. The following year, the Guinness World Record holder giant strawberry shortcake was baked, and revived in 2017 and then in 2019. – Ofelia C. Empian