One of the best aspects of living in Kinmen is the many festivals and government-sponsored events that I enjoy regularly. Out of these one of the most fun was the Taro Festival. I went with my LET Ellen and her husband Jack, the 6th grade HRT Mei Hui and my roommate Lilly to the Taro Festival in Little Kinmen in October. I was pretty excited about this event not only because I love eating taro bread, but because it was the first time I went somewhere with a coworker outside of the school setting. It was so fun even though it was very hot outside just like every day during summer in Kinmen.
The 6th grade HRT lived near our apartment, so she led us by scooter to the festival location. The first thing we received when we arrived to the festival location were free purple tote bags with pictures of taro on the them. I really love all of the free items I get by going to Kinmen cultural events. We bought some soup which was way too salty, but it was no problem since Jack ate all of the soup that no one else wanted to finish.
The festival featured many special events, including concerts with famous musicians. I even took a picture with someone in a Taro costume! Everything was on the beach, giving us a wonderful view of the ocean when we sat and relaxed under the tent coverings.
One of the most popular events of the festival was digging for taro because it gave participants the opportunity to dig for taro and take the taro home with them for free. First we had to register to be able to dig for the taro. We had to wait a few hours for our turn, but it was worth it to have such a unique experience. While we waited, Lilly and I went to explore the festival. There were many booths and tents that sold taro-related products. Because it was so hot outside, I bought taro ice cream to cool down. When we returned to the waiting line, we discovered that time was up and that they didn’t want to accept anyone else to dig for taro.
Although the time for digging taro was over, when Ellen explained that my roommate and I were foreigners who wanted to experience digging for taro the people in charge let us go anyway and we all harvested taro. It felt pretty legit; they gave us hoes to use and everything. Of course, all of the taro had been harvested by that time, so we really just played around with the hoes and took pictures that made it look like we were actually working. I love the way people in Kinmen are willing to make accommodations so that foreigners can experience their culture.
Afterwards, we went to eat the free meal provided for all of the festival guests. While we ate, there were performances of dancing and singing on a nearby stage. Unfortunately, the tide began to rise and many tents and events had to pack up and move to avoid being swept away or flooded by the water. Lilly and I took that as a sign that it was time to leave and go home, especially since it was so hot outside.
After we arrived home, Lilly and I were loaded with heavy bags of freshly picked taro. However, both of us realized that we had no idea how to cook the purple root. However, Lilly knew a chef at her school who was willing to make us taro soup. It was delicious and spicy. Best of all: it was made from the taro Lilly and I got fresh from the fields of Little Kinmen. By participating in the Taro festival, we managed to connect with several Kinmen natives and enjoy the fruit of our (fake) labor.
Author: Kristian Edosomwan, 2014-2015