The 53rd Festival of Flowers in Medellín, Colombia took place between July 25th and August 8th. This year, the festival ran longer – it is now 15 days long, and there were many more events. The full schedule of events can be found on the Festival's official page. In addition, there was an increase in the number of people who attended the variety of ceremonies, 150 events, 18 musical stages, and the main event, the parade of Silleteros (flower carriers).
The silleteros are a large group of peasants from the community of Santa Elena located one hour from Medellín, and who carry up to 500 wooden frames on their backs with flowers harvested from the region. These days, the festival is a highly organized business and has grown since the first festival that was held on May 1, 1957. The Facebook group “Flower Festival 2010 [es]” provides more information about the history of the event that was created by the illustrious resident Arturo Uribe, who was part of the board of the Promotion and Tourism Office. According to the Facebook group, the first festival:
duró cinco días y fue algo incipiente porque careció del brillo de la actual. Sin embargo, con casetas en varios sitios de la ciudad y con fiestas privadas en los clubes sociales, los antioqueños disfrutaron de la magia de las flores.
The official page of the Silleteros highlights their active participation [es] in the parade and the wooden frames decorated with many types of flowers.
Nuevamente los 500 silleteros y silleteras del Corregimiento de Santa Elena entre niños, jóvenes, adultos y pioneros, tenemos el gusto de invitarlos este próximo 08 de Agosto, a partir de las 2:30 p.m. a disfrutar de la 53º Versión del histórico Desfile de Silleteros 2010. (…), enseñaremos que en nuestra comunidad silletera en medio de flores se puede construir espacios en donde la tolerancia, convivencia, equidad de genero, unión familiar, nos hace ser una de las mejores representaciones de la cultura colombiana.
This is how this year's Festival of Flowers took place with the attendance of local residents and visitors, and which was talked about in social media and blogs. Xady of the blog Expresate [es], invites his readers to experience the joy from the festival's activities:
La feria de las flores nos trae muchos eventos significativos para toda la comunidad y el pueblo Medellinense con sus respectivos turistas. Debo destacar los espectaculares eventos musicales que se llevan a cabo de la feria de las flores, desde las presentaciones de las bandas músico marciales, tablados artísticos de Latin jazz, festival de bandas en la terminal del sur y artistas representativos de nuestro país como Grupo Galé, Jorge Celedón, Grupo Niche, Andrés cepeda entre otros.
Tomáz Garzía in his blog Mundo Desgrafiado [es], provides another look at the festival, of which he writes, “I couldn't be better inspired to talk about my fellow citizens” and about those who take part:
Por esta época se disfrazan de paramilitares y saltan a la calle de poncho y sombrero, prendas que los campesinos ya evitan para no desentonar con las tendencias de la moda.
There are other activities besides the parade of flower carriers that attract visitors to Medellín, such as the group horse ride. The twitter account of the El Colombiano (@tips9333) newspaper received a photo from Daniela Zapata, who captured the image of a girl who fell off the horse and which was published the picture on Twitpic. Another of these activities is the antique car parade. Richard Klaus of the blog Orgullo Paisa [es] makes reference to the 15 years that the event has been part of the Festival of Flowers:
Este emblemático desfile cumple 15 años de realizarse y año tras año lo hace con mucho más éxito, durante el recorrido podremos deleitar nuestra vista viendo los hermosos y vistosos carros que paseaban nuestra calles paisas hace mucho tiempo y que ahora nos acompañan en tan magno evento.
Blogger Jaime Horacio Arango of DiabloG [es] writes about the “political decision” that took place in regards to the festival's broadcast, in relation to the debate that took place between the television channels Teleantioquia and Telemedellín. This year, Teleantioquia was not given broadcast rights to cover the central event, the Silleteros Parade, even though they had been broadcasting the event for the past 23 years along with Telemedellín. This created negative comments that finally were calmed, supposedly by the Antioquia Governor, Luis Alfredo Ramos, who asked Teleantioquia to follow the Mayor's ruling, who argued that it was a registered brand and that it was Telemedellín's production, but they would facilitate the signal to those who wanted to broadcast it on a regional or international channel. In conclusion, Teleantioquia linked to Telemedellín, and the parade was able to be seen by many more people through regional television channels.
Despite this politicization, each year the Festival of Flowers in Medellín attracts more and more people. The Festival moves the economy and turns the city into a place where one can live its traditions and simple activities.