Once a year all of Jarabacoa comes out to for a big party: and it’s the Jarabacoa Flower Festival. It originated with the Japanese immigrants. But Jarabacoa has always been well known for its flowers. Due to its mild climate Jarabacoa became on of the central points on the island for growing flowers that aren’t as common in other places on the island.

Orchids for example are a flower that is not unique to Jarabacoa, but pretty common here, especially in the wild. This fact, plus the Japanese immigration in the 50s that encouraged the growing and exporting of flowers, turned Jarabacoa into the a pivotal point for anything that grows with more colors than just green. The event lasts for 4 days, usually towards the end of June. It always sets up somewhere around the Jarabacoa avenue.

So what can you do here? Well, besides buying flowers at special offers, you can indulge in just enjoying a stroll through what we’ll call a tiny state fair. A month earlier they even elect a Queen of the Festival who then represent the town in other event throughout the island. For the most part the festival is visited by Dominicans, but you will also see the odd foreigner. They’re easy to spot, especially if they’re Americans: they’re pretty much the only ones wearing shorts.

You can eat, buy artisanal decorations, jewelry, various exhibitions, enjoy free coffee and free concerts. During the day there are presentations by local artists and in the evening more nationally known artist show up for a few sets of their more popular songs. Dancing is optional.

There is a cover charge of 10 pesos per day, which is about 20 cents. Saturdays has the flower parade, an event that also features — besides floats, bands and cheerleaders — Jarabacoa’s second indulgence: horses. People come from all over the island joining in the cabalgada: a cavalcade, or procession of horsemen, along the Jarabacoa avenue. You’ll get to see several million dollars worth of paso fino horses riding down the street. That in itself is quite the impressive show. I mean, most of us can imagine a car worth being a million bucks, but a horse?

Now granted, by most standards the Jarabacoa flower fair is kind of small. Then again, Jarabacoa is still a village aspiring to become a town. It has no industry, but does rely almost entirely on agriculture, exporting vegetables, coffee and, well, flowers. The festival has only been going on for about 6 years, but it has been growing consistently.

So if you’re in town and got an afternoon to to spare, swing by.

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