MANIZALES, Colombia – The Manizales Fair, described as the “most beautiful of the Americas,” begins on Saturday in that central Colombian city with shows ranging from international music concerts to the International Queen of Coffee contest to the bullfighting season being rolled out at one of the country’s most traditional bullrings.
The festivities, to be celebrated between Jan. 6-14, will feature more than 300 events, of which 80 percent will be free.
The International Queen of Coffee, a contest whose only participants are beauties from countries that are significant producers and consumers of that product, will be one of the main attractions of the fair and will crown this year its 47th queen, who will succeed Mexico’s Marilu Acevedo.
The bullfighting lineup will feature such toreros as the Spaniards Enrique Ponce, Alberto Lopez Simon, Jose Garrido and Julian “El Juli” Lopez, France’s Juan Bautista and the Colombians Ramses Ruiz, Luis Bolivar, Juan Pablo Correa and Pepe Manrique.
Thanks to its deep-rooted passion for bullfighting, Manizales and its people were recognized by Law 1025 of 2006 as “the origin and supervisors of the bullfighting tradition in Colombia and the Americas.”
The season will begin this Sunday and will continue until Saturday, Jan. 13, at the Monumental Bullring of Manizales, where the best bullfighters will take home a trophy representing the city’s cathedral.
The Culture and Tourism Institute of Manizales (ICTM) has invested 6.8 billion Colombian pesos (some $2.3 million) to attract around 370,000 tourists to this year’s festivities.
“The last fair had some 350,000 visitors. We’re here with a plan to keep growing,” ICTM Director Hector Ortiz said.
Two of this year’s novelties will be the Tech Fest, which aims to involve visitors in the latest technologies, and the show put on by the Slovene Dunking Devils, who mix acrobatics with basketball to entertain the crowds.
For musical entertainment, Puerto Rican salsa star Gilberto Santa Rosa will be the main artist in announcing the Manizales Fair, a town that for its quality of life is described as “the most habitable” in the country.
Also onstage will be artists like Charrito Negro singing his sardonic songs, and vallenato singer Jean Carlos Centeno, Puerto Rican reggaeton artist Ñejo, salsa artists Fruko and his Treasures, the vallenato group Los Inquietos and singer Jhonny Rivera.
As the years go by, such festivities have been featured at the fair as the International Queen of Coffee, won most often by Brazil with eight victories, followed by Colombia with five, and Venezuela and Costa Rica with four each.