Every night? we repeated, you mean seven days a week? Three-hundred-sixty-five days a year?
She looked even more confused. Yes, the party goes on every single night.
The night market was just a prelude to the actual Tagum City durian festival. The festival grounds were swarming with people by the time Rob and I arrived, early so as not to miss anything.
At least 20 durian vendors lined the perimeter, with tables and tents for durian snacking intermixed with vendors selling water and ice cold sodas. The hundreds of plastic chairs set up in front of the stage quickly filled with students in chef hats, performers in traditional dress, and dancers in blue sequined miniskirts.
The Tagum City durian festival doubles as the “Culinary Olympics.” Local culinary school students compete to make the best durian cakes, pies, coffee, and even a durian cocktails. This last event surprised me; in every country we’ve visited so far mixing durian and alcohol is taboo. Apparently fun-loving Filipinos don’t mind mixing sins.
Durian Eating Competition
One of the highlights for us was that Rob entered the Durian Eating Competition. We’d already experienced one in Chanthaburi, but competition was much fiercer this time. At the end, Rob was the only man whose face wasn’t smeared in white goo. It was both disgusting and hilarious to watch. Even more funny was the children’s event.
I did notice that not a single female competed in either Eating Competition, nor the Durian Cracking Contest. Each durian vendor sent a representative from their stall to compete. I’ve seen some lovely ladies hanging around the durian stalls – why not take a stab? (okay, bad pun). I’m sure a woman has the potential to be just as quick as these fellows at knifing open a durian.
I don’t yet know what the winning time was, but last year’s champion sliced open his fruit in only 7 seconds! That’s quick work on a durian.
I really enjoyed the vibe of the festival. It was fun to attend such a big event dedicated to durian. When we left around 10:30 PM, the party was still going strong. There’s still three weeks left, so we’ll be going back for more fun, and to meet with some agriculturists in the region. Please let us know if you’ll be there!
To see more pictures, visit our Facebook page at Year of the Durian.