Strawberry capital marks strawberry fest

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet (Mar. 15) – RP’s Strawberry capital has enough reason to celebrate.

After snatching the Guinness Book of World Records for its “Biggest Strawberry Shortcake” in 2005, La Trinidad on Monday (March 19) will begin its Strawberry Festival with street dancing and float parades and unveiling of its “House of Strawberry”.

Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will join the Monday revelries and partake of the “world famous” strawberry short cake, a smaller version of the shortcake three years ago.

Then shaped like a strawberry lying on its side, the record holder measured 9,600 kilos; 12.31 feet long, 8.68 feet wide; and nine feet in diameter with a total volume of 547.32 cubic feet as certified by the Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers-Baguio City. Around 2,350 kilos of fresh strawberries (imported from Argentina), 537.5 kilos of butter and 967.5 kilos of strawberry preserve were used. These produced a total of 2,150 pans of cake that each of the 42,080 tourists, residents and guests savored on that costed about a million.

After more than a year in May 31, last year, La Trinidad finally got the title it had waited for.

This year however, no cake as large as the record holder is going to be baked but enough strawberry cake will be for everyone coming to the town to celebrate, said Mayor Nestor Fongwan who is very optimistic that the different activities lined up for the festival will lure in local and foreign tourists.

House of Strawberry

A “strawberry house” near the municipal hall exhibits the different strawberry products, the authentic certificate of La Trinidad as the 2004 Guinness World Record holder for the largest strawberry cake ever baked and a video documentation on the making of the said cake.

The town hall’s grounds will be sprawled with bakers, processors and exhibitors for their various strawberry cakes and products.

Town agriculturist Fely Ticbaan claims the local government is cooperating with the Department of Trade and Industry and the Bureau of Food and Drugs for the screening of products and registration of the participants. “If the products pass their standards, these would be accredited and labeled with the One Town, One Product (Otop) seal.”

“The production of strawberry is high. There would be enough fruits for the festival,” Ticbaan had said.

Strawberry production

To maintain good strawberry production, the local government has implemented a strategy of planting stocks would be changed every three years. Such will avert pests and eventually, reduce the use of chemicals.

A processing center where different agricultural products would undergo processes such as trimming, cleansing, washing and drying is also being thought of by the local government.

Literally on the ground, for the continuous conduct of the strawberry festival, Fongwan said agricultural lots for strawberries and other agricultural products would also be sustained.

Last year, the “sweet Charlie” strawberry variety distributed to farmers ensured good harvest in time for this year’s festival, according to Fongwan.

Humble Beginnings

La Trinidad started baking the giant strawberry cake in March 2002 to promote the town as the “Strawberry Capital of the Philippines,” as the premier producer of strawberries in the country.

The first and second servings of the strawberry cake fed 11,000 and 28,000 respectively. # Ace Alegre for NORDIS

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