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Panamanian handicrafts are gaining popularity all over the world. Well-respected fashion designers have discovered their beauty and are incorporating them in their “haute couture” creations. The Handicraft National Fair (Feria Nacional de Artesanías) in its 39th edition showcases local artisan skills, in an event where visitors can find everything from a colorful mola to a hardwood table. It is expected that more than 40,000 people will visit the fair.
The event will take place from Wednesday 27 to Sunday, July 31 at the Atlapa Convention Center. More than 500 artisans will participate in one of the most important fairs of its kind in the country, which allows them to sell their wares not only in Panama, but also abroad. Tickets cost $3 for adults $1.50 for pensioners and children $1 and are for sale at the box office.
“This year we will have a varied program for the five days of the fair, which includes Afro-Caribbean and Panamanian cuisine, workshops about business and handicraft, fancy dress costume, master artisan contests, performances of national artistes and folkloric presentations,” said Ana Leny Villarreal, Handicraft Deputy Director of the Ministry of Commerce
A forum about Panama’s national dress, ‘la pollera’, will take place during the fair. Attendees will be able to learn its origins, how its different components are made, such as the undergarments, shoes, laces, head adornments and how the outfit changes depending on the region.
The fair will also offer training to artisans in the Atlapa’s Boquete Salon in topics such as: handicraft as a way of life, hobby or business; applying design to handicrafts, handicraft evolution and making handicraft using recyclable material.
Currently there are 13,340 artisans in the country and every year through the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and the Panama Tourism Authority, more people from small communities are being trained to make handicrafts to sell to tourists. One of the most exported items is the mola made by the Guna Indians and the sombrero pintao (painted hat), the traditional hats wore by peasant men.
The first handicraft fair took place in 1977 at the Parque Omar.