The Animals, The Rodeo, Plants and San Pedrano Sightings at the 2012 Belize National Agriculture And Trade Show in Belmopan
I hardly know where to start with this series of the posts (a two parter). The Belize National Agriculture and Trade Show takes place in Belmopan on the huge fair grounds each year. This year it was Friday thru Sunday, April 27th to 29th. It is not just agriculture...it is music, there are games and contests, there are animals, there is a rodeo, there is motorcross, shopping, drinking, eating, dancing, a dog show, a flower show, a sweating clown, there are mechanical rides, a giant ferris wheel that goes incredibly fast and is powered by a guy on a tractor...it is almost overwhelming.
Yes, what people say about this event is true. It is hot, way hot (it is mainland Belize at the end of April for pete's sake). Yes, it is crowded. (So many people tell me "I can't go. I don't like crowds"...ummm...really?...who does?) It is crowded with people of all ages having a good time. And yes, there is lots of walking. But EVERYTHING I saw made the trip 100% worth it. I travelled to Belmopan thinking that I had to attend this HUGE fair once. But I will be returning every year. Guaranteed. I had one of the most fun days I've ever had in Belize.
At the very south end of Ambregris Caye, we flew over an area called Cayo Congrejo and the Siete Canales (or Seven Channels). Deeper water canals that cut through the little bits of land and mangroves, this area is supposed to be great for fishing.
Since they were expecting 20-25 thousand people at the show over the weekend and only about 14,000 live in Belmopan, we knew that lots of people would be travelling. Especially from Belize's biggest city, Belize City. Be prepared. There is no order when getting on the bus in Belize. No waiting on line. It is a total free for all. Even though we were supposed to wait at gate one, people rush from every gate. Usually this isn't a problem...but when there is a crowd, sharpen your elbows.
To the fair! $5 entrance. Policemen with metal detecting wands (only applied to those deemed suspicious looking...I, thankfully, made the cut). And this map and schedule of events for the two days. INVALUABLE.
The show was originally started to compare, show, sell and exchange information on animals and crops. I'd guess about half of the fair remains devoted to those pursuits. We first went to examine the fruits and vegetables of Belize that were going to be judged to crown the biggest and best. Most I recognized...and some I didn't.
Some displays were a bit more elaborate but every fruit/vegetable/legume grown in Belize was represented.
The different types of oranges, tangelos, limes, grapefruits that they experiment with to get the best taste and the best juice. The Dangriga area in Stann Creek is definitely the citrus belt of the country. There was quite a bit of information on the diseases, particularly the one that is now harming the orange and lemon crops, that can kill citrus trees and their fruit.
Next the area where there were displays on plant and crop cultivation.
How to start your own rice paddy.
How to grow potatoes and other root vegetables.
How to start an urban garden.
These nice ladies from the Women Groups of Northern Belize were selling Wow Soy Sauce which they make in Orange Walk. The sample tasted delicious. $2bzd and I had a bottle of my own. They told us to look for it in major stores in Belize City soon.
The Brahman bulls came in different sizes. From this small, sleepy guy at 1400lbs.
To this 9 year old at over 2100lbs.
Brahman cattle are distinctive because of the hump on the back and the flap of skin on their throats. The hump allows them to store fat and water in times of severe drought. They do much better than standard cattle in the tropics with their oily skin that repels flies and deflects the sun. Unlike Brahman cattle, standards breeds can't sweat through their skin. Poor guys. You belong up north.
Lots of horses of all sizes.
I haven't even started on the flowers and decorative plants...let's cruise through with one or two. The "Flower Palace" displayed all of the entrants and the winners.
Okay...quick...off to the rodeo! Calf roping, barrel racing...all the stuff I've only seen in movies.
Phew! And I've barely scratched the surface. There is so much more...music, food, beer, games of chance, the scary ferris wheel. Stayed tuned tomorrow for Part 2.
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