LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – The municipal government will be streamlining the activities for this year’s Strawberry Festival in compliance with the implementation of the community quarantine restrictions following the surge in Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases triggered by the more infectious and more transmissible Omicron variant.
However, Mayor Romeo K. Salda stated that the municipal inter-agency task force for the management of emerging infectious diseases will decide on the matter based on the Alert Level of the province imposed at the time of the celebration of the festival by the middle of March.
He disclosed that what would likely push through will be the ritual and the thanksgiving mass part of the simple celebration of the Strawberry Festival for the second year in a row primarily because of the implementation of the ongoing restrictions on the conduct of gatherings to avoid the further rapid spread of the virus.
While the COVID-19 situation in the municipality is still under control because of the down trend on cases, the Mayor underscored that the municipal government does not want to risk the overall public health and safety by allowing the conduct of public gatherings, thus, the sustained implementation of the ongoing restrictions to prevent the local health care system from being overwhelmed and the frontliners from being unduly stressed.
The Strawberry Festival is the town’s major crowd drawing activity that enticed thousands of visitors annually which came right after the end of the Baguio Flower Festival in nearby Baguio City.
Mayor Salda pointed out that the annual celebration of the Strawberry Festival is a big boost to the municipality’s strawberry industry as one of the major agriculture-related activities in the municipal but strawberry production had been heavily impacted by the ongoing pandemic over the past 2 years because of the cancellation of the highlights of the annual festivities.
Last year, the municipal government was supposed to present to the public the largest strawberry shortcake that had been recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest shortcake in the world.
In 2004, La Trinidad baked the largest strawberry shortcake in the world that paved the way for the sustained promotion of the municipality as a major tourist attraction in the Cordillera and for strawberries as one of most popular products bought by tourists visiting the province and nearby Baguio City.
The mayor admitted that the town’s tourism industry have been heavily impacted by the ongoing pandemic but the municipal government, in coordination with concerned government agencies, is trying to find ways on how to assist the industry stakeholders for them to be able to hurdle the challenges posed by the pandemic, especially to the employment and economic activities of the people.