LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – The strawberry festival kicked off Monday with the Agro-industrial trade fair dubbed “Surviving the Times, Moving Forward.”

The strawberry festival started with a thanksgiving mass. It showcased flowers, strawberries and vegetables as top products of the province, said Mayor Artemio Galwan.

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Galwan led the raising of the various barangay flags to signal the opening of the trade fair aimed to display the best of local products.

A strawberry lane will showcase strawberry based products like wines, candies, yogurt, jams, ice cream and baked products.

Department of Tourism Regional Director Purification Molintas lauded the efforts of the municipality to tone down the festivities in the wake of effects of the recent typhoons.

Molintas also acknowledged efforts of the local government to relocate remaining homeless families.

Galwan said most of those rendered homeless are strawberry farmers and laborers.

The festival also features a culinary competition for the best new strawberry processed food, best salads and dips made out of strawberry that were displayed to the public.

A “Tayo Tan Uwik,” a cultural show is slated on March 18 at the municipal gymnasium, along with a coffee berry festival on March 22.

The festival was formulated in 2004 to promote the valley as the “Strawberry Capital of the Philippines.”

In 2004, the local government baked the world’s largest strawberry cake, which won a slot at the Guinness Book of World Records. (Ma. Elena Catajan)