Marimba music, the peseta dance, and a hard-fought handmade tortilla competition will take over the professional technical high school in Corralillo de Nicoya from July 22-25 when the community celebrates their well-known Festival de la Tortilla.
The Festival de la Tortilla has become a celebration of the Guanacastecan identity. However, it has grown so much that the logistics have turned it into a challenge for community organizers.
“We’d love to work with all the heads of household, but very few help us. So if we’re missing something its labor and people who want to help,” said Baltodano.
For now, the organizing committee is concentrating on improving the organization of the volunteers they currently have, who are mostly teachers, students, and parents.
By creating work schedules and better delegating tasks, they are aiming to improve efficiency so that everybody gets a tortilla this weekend.
The Festival de la Tortilla is a Guanacastecan festival that attracts hundreds of people from throughout the country. But it wasn’t always like that.
The activity began as an initiative at the Corralillo high school to illustrate gastronomic traditions to students. In recent years, however, it has become a nationwide celebration of the Guanacastecan identity.
“One July 25th we wanted to do something different. We brought in an old lady to make tortillas by hand, for the kids to watch. But we never thought this would get so big,” said Baltodano.
In spite of its modest beginnings, the festival has gained steam in recent years. In fact, in 2016 President Luis Guillermo Solís and First Lady Mercedes Peña were part of the celebration.
The festival’s growth has been beneficial for the community. Monies raised by the organization are earmarked both for the professional technical high school and infrastructure improvements for the festival itself.
An example of this is the recent opening of a new traditional palenque, or palapa, as a place of celebration.
One of the reasons this activity is so successful, according to organizer Rafael Fonseca, is its commitment to Guanacaste’s culture and the guarantee that it will be a 100% Guanacastecan festival.
“Within the festival the sale of foods that don’t belong to us is strictly prohibited. You aren’t going to find a stall selling chop suey or a Pizza Hut,” said Fonseca.
Another important detail, according to organizers, is the participation of high school students, who jump in whenever they’re needed.
“We cannot forget about the students because they give so much. These kids are worthy of admiration for their help with logistics, attending to the public, the artists. They take ownership of this part very well,” said Fonseca.
According to Baltodano, this growth has become complicated because, even with the help of many local parents, it isn’t enough to attend to the hundreds of people who visit the festival.
The festival will offer several cultural activities over the course of the weekend. Families will be able to enjoy Guanacaste’s folklore together.
The Festival de la Tortilla will open with a parade of cimarronas (local bands), folk music, oxcart drivers, and clowns that will end up at the community’s traditional palenque. Music and folk dancing will be part of the opening ceremonies there.
Another chief activity is the “corn reign,” in which Corralillo high school students will march in suits and dresses made of corncobs and grains of corn. A corn king and corn queen will be chosen out of the participants.
The main activity will be the handmade tortilla competition. A jury of women from the community will award the best tortilla. The competition this year will be not only among local women, but with students as well.
There is the full agenda for the festival: