More than 500 flower farmers participate in Colombia’s Flower Festival

World Today

A man rests before the traditional “Silleteros” parade, held as part of the Flower Festival in Medellin, Antioquia department, Colombia, on August 12, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Camilo Gil

Colombia is celebrating a six-decade long tradition that happens every August. It is a flower festival hosted by the city of Medellin and brings together people from around the world.

CGTN’s Michelle Begue reports.

There might not be any other place in the world where you see so much detail and pride go into the placement of a flower.

 For some 60 years, every August, the Colombian city of Medellin is the setting for a week-long flower festival, that culminates with the flower parade.

The event is not only a celebration of the region’s flowers but also the farmers who cultivate them. They are known as the silleteros a nickname from the Spanish word chair, as the mountain peasants carried their produce on their backs.

Thirty eight-year-old Livardo Vasquez’s majestic flower arrangement, which weighs 110 kilograms, is comprised of hundreds of different flower species.

“In our region, we exchange the flowers, we are all friends,” Vasquez said. “So we share the different species we cultivate so that the arrangements aren’t too expensive.”

Of the 600,000  spectators that come to enjoy the parade, only 35,000  watch from the bleachers with assigned seats. The rest wait hours to get a good viewing spot from the streets and cheer from the sidelines

More than 500 silleteros participate, and each of them said they spend two to four months preparing the design. The flowers are put in just days before the parade.

The arrangements are judged for their creative designs in each of the different categories and the winners can take home up to 2000 dollars in awards.

However, most say they do this simply for the opportunity to parade in front of a cheering crowd and that has been the motivation for more than half a century for 77-year-old Oscar Atehortua Rios. 

“We are prepared for this we come from rural areas where we carry everything and walk all day,” Rios said. “We don’t get tired and here we have the audience that give us strength