Music and prose at San Francisco de la Montaña

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The historical church is the town’s main attraction, done in baroque style, dating from 1727. The altar is a work of art, hand-carved wood pieces, painted and covered with gold leaf.

The historical church is the town’s main attraction, done in baroque style, dating from 1727. The altar is a work of art, hand-carved wood pieces, painted and covered with gold leaf.

In the year 2008, Panama’s Writers Association decided to establish an annual festival for creative people from all over the country. Several locations were discussed as possible scenarios for the festival, but the group ultimately chose San Francisco de la Montaña in the province of Veraguas.

This mountain town, located 17 kilometers from Santiago, the province’s capital, has great historic heritage. The first mention of the town dates back to the XVII century. Its location was picked because of its proximity to the gold mines in Santa Fe which were exploited between 1540 and 1590. Its famous church is done in Baroque style, dating from 1727.

The community was happy to support the idea of the festival and in March of 2010 the first version was held. Edilberto Trejos, the organizer, tells us “We hope this festival will create awareness of the potential the area has for cultural tourism and that it will promote education, art and culture, as a way of reducing the poverty.

San Francisco de la Montaña Festival holds workshops with children to teach them art, culture, music and the importance of reading.

San Francisco de la Montaña Festival holds workshops with children to teach them art, culture, music and the importance of reading.

This year’s version of the festival will be held Friday, January 31, Saturday, February 1 and Sunday February 2. Friday will be a day for poets and movies, where Marifeli Domínguez, Benjamín Ramón, Eyra Harbar y Bladimir Víquez recite their poems and movies will be shown from Mente Pública, AcampaDoc and the Hayah Festival.

On Saturday 3, Germán Pinzón Jiménez, singer and composer from Veraguas; Nukumba Jazzsix, a jazz sextet, and Karla Lamboglia and her group will perform. Sunday will be a day for poetry readings from authors such as Olmedo Osorio Méndez from Veraguas and Bladimir Víquez from Chiriquí, as well as three rock bands: Casa 16, Billy Mata Córdoba and Metheora.

Among the activities organized are the dessert fair, audiovisual presentations, workshops for children, and art and photography exhibitions. For more information about the festival, visit www.facebook.com/pages/Festival-San-Francisco-de-la-Montaña/115218101878739.

Where to stay?

The Festival offers delicious treats . Bakers from the area make special desserts for the festival.

The Festival offers delicious treats . Bakers from the area make special desserts for the festival.

Santa Fe: located about half an hour past San Francisco de la Montaña, is next to a national park with the same name. Visitors can also enjoy bathing in the Santa Maria River. Lodging options include Coffee Mountain Inn (http://coffeemountaininn.com/), Hotel Santa Fe (www.hotelsantafepanama.com), and El Caballo Verde (http://elcaballoverdesantafe.weebly.com/).

Santiago: is the capital city of the province of Veraguas. There are many lodging options in this city including Hotel Vista Lago (www.hotelvistalagopanama.com), Hotel La Hacienda (www.hotel-lahacienda.net), Hotel Mykonos (www.mykonospanama.com), and Hotel Gran David (www.hotelgrandavid.com).

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