IF there was one thing different at the Flame Tree Arts Festival this year, it is the absence of the flaming flowers the festival has been named for.
Albeit the island is still smarting from the scars Typhoon Soudelor left in its wake eight months later did not hinder thousands of people from flocking to the Civic Center in Susupe from April 14-17, 2016 for a colorful, action-packed weekend of arts, festivities, fun, food and entertainment.
For the past 35 years, Saipan has been celebrating the biggest and longest-running Flame Tree Arts Festival to celebrate the rich art and cultural heritage of the CNMI and promote, perpetuate and preserve the knowledge and skills of the island’s local artists.
The Flame Tree Arts Festival is a feast for the senses as guests were treated daily to a smorgasbord of talents from contemporary artists, visual artists, traditional and performing artists from Saipan, Tinian, Rota, Guam and other islands in the Pacific Region.
A wide array of food favorites—both local and international cuisines were made available to whet the appetites of the guests by some of the island’s restaurants and fast foods.
Over 50 booths displayed various works of art manufactured only in the CNMI and Micronesia. The artworks varied from paintings, photography, woven products, locally made jewelry, mwar-mwar, beadworks, locally-manufactured food products, and more. The annual festival is also a way for local artists to connect with buyers and art collectors, and expose their talent to the community.
Government and non-government agencies displayed exhibits of their programs and services.
The Flame Tree Arts Festival is a tribute to local artists and cultural advocates for their great contributions to preserve the culture and artistic heritage of the CNMI. This year, 11 artists were recognized for their valuable contributions and they were Alfonso Litulumar Saures, Arnold Wabol Kaipat, Augustina Limes Dision, Barbara Repeki Suel, formerGov. Eloy Songao Inos, Henry Pialur Kaipat, Herbert Del Rosario, Herman Untalan Hofschneider, Vicente Enrique Wol Ilo and Visitacion Teregeyo.
For a festival that started out with 10 booths 35 years ago, the Flame Tree Arts Festival has evolved and expanded into over 80 booths for artworks and food.
“This is to demonstrate that not only are we celebrating our unique Chamorro and Refaluwasch cultures, but we are also appreciating and welcoming the union of different cultures that have come to our islands, and that call the islands their home too,” Lieutenant Governor Victor Hocog said during the opening night on Thursday.
Robert Hunter, acting Department of Community and Cultural Affairs secretary who is an artist himself, said the goal is to make the annual festival the largest arts and cultural event in the Micronesian region — one that benefits the whole community and the local economy.
On your next trip to Saipan, make the annual Flame Tree Arts Festival a part of your itinerary.