Every year since 1957, La Feria de las Flores (The Flowers Festival) has filled the Colombian city of Medellín with live music, parading horses, beauty queens, serendipitous dancing, and yes, perennials, annuals, and other blossoming plants.

Queens gets in on the fun this weekend with Colombian music, literature, and workshops at Flushing Town Hall as part of an event called “Flower Festival Intl.”

Pianist Teresita Gómez and soprano Delcy Yanet Estrada will offer symphonic music from Antioquia, a department in mountainous northwestern Colombia where Medellín is located, on Saturday, June 30, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $16.

Gómez first tickled the ivories in Medellín when was four years old. She gave her first solo concert at age 10. It was all about performing, teaching, and studying the piano for the following 60 years, leading to Gómez’s receiving the prestigious Juan del Corral Award for her contribution to Colombian culture from her government in 2017. Meanwhile, Estrada is a lyrical singer and soloist who is known as much for belting out classical European operas as for her interpretations of folkloric Andean music. She, too, is dedicated to studying and teaching her craft, often serving as master of ceremonies for television programs and musical events.

Beforehand, there’s a special presentation with Reinaldo Spitaletta, a professor, prolific author, and columnist with the Colombian newspaper “El Espectador,” at 6 p.m. He’ll discuss and sign copies of his latest work, “The Ballad of an Old Teenager (Balada de un Viejo Adolescente),” a first-person narrative following a young man who lives in a senior citizen home while still in school. It portrays the reality and fiction of life in Medellín in the late 20th century, when the city was a war zone due largely to drug lord and narcoterrorist Pablo Escobar.

The celebration of Colombian culture continues on Sunday, July 1, from noon to 5 p.m. with a performance by SADEP, a circus arts group, and a free workshop with floral artisans, known as “silleteros.”

The joke in fun-loving Colombia is that the festival continues all year long, and Flushing Town Hall seems to agree. The cultural space will open a new visual art exhibition, “Five Gestures of Contemporary Colombian Artists,” in the Green Room Gallery on July 1 at 3 p.m. Featuring Flor Maria Bouhot, Francisco Londoño, John Jairo Muriel, Ramiro Correo, and Germán Benjumea, it will be on display indefinitely.

In other neighborhoods, the festival will continue with comedian Fosforito and the group Zafarrancho at Joya Hall in Rego Park on Friday, July 6, and a street crawl through Jackson Heights on Saturday, July 7.

La Feria de las Flores celebrates emancipation in Colombia. Slaves used to carry their masters on their backs up steep hills in Medellín. After freedom was granted, people started carrying floral arrangements (silletas) instead. Over time, a parade with classic automobiles, Porto Fino horses, orchids, and dancers developed.

Image: Jeff Simmons


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