Celebrate the spice of life: Yearly village festival pays homage to all things pepper

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Celebrate the spice of life: Yearly village festival pays homage to all things pepper

by: Takahiro Takiguchi | .
Stripes Guam | .
published: September 05, 2018
If you haven’t tasted the local peppers, or “donne” (pronounced doe-nee), then you haven’t tasted Guam yet.
 
The village of Mangilao, the island’s pepper center, is once again pulling out all the stops to celebrate all things donne during the annual Mangilao Donne Festival to be held Sept. 14-16 next to Santa Teresita Church on route 10.
 
Don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy a wide range of local hot peppers and flavorful dishes, as well as tasty international recipes.
 
“The Mangilao Donne Festival is a festival celebrating all things PIKA (Chamorro for ‘hot’)!” said Mangilao Mayor Allan Ungacta. “It celebrates the donne, or hot pepper, which is found throughout our village.”
 
During the festival, booths bedecked with peppers and coconut leaves will offer samples and sell pepper plants, homemade “finadenne” – Guam’s signature spicy condiment without which no meal is complete – donne dinanche (hot pepper paste), pika (hot-pepper jelly), barbecue, beverages, clothes, crafts and so much more. Remember to save room for some spicy desserts, too!
 
They will also have their annual food competition for BEST KADON PIKA, BEST DINANCHE and BEST PIKA DESSERT. If you want to participate in the event, you can register at the Mangilao Mayor’s Office.
 
The festival program includes a Miss Donne contest, donne raffle, cultural dance performances, live music and more for all ages. It’s also an opportunity for local farmers – from pros to hobbyist – to show off and sell their best peppers and pepper products.
 
“During our festival, our highlights are the cooking competitions, the plethora of food vendors and the abundance of plants and vegetables available for sale to the public,” Ungacta said.
 
The festival has over 80 vendors every year (not including the local farmers), and the event is expected to be just as hot this year.
 
This year, there will be fireworks on Sept. 14 and Sept. 16 at 7 p.m., according to Ungacta.
 
On Guam, every village has a different festival to showcase its local agricultural products. While Talafofo has a banana festival and Agana Heights has a coconut festival, most locals in Mangilao grow donne. To promote the village and the donne plant, former Mayor Nito Blas and then Vice Mayor Ungacta, along with Guam Visitor’s Bureau, established the festival in 2011.
 
The festival actively promotes local produce and products it produces being that Mangilao is known for agricultural, sports and education, according to Ungacta.
 
“Since 2011, our village has successfully coordinated the event to promote the local farmers in the village, as well as help small businesses,” Ungacta said. “Each year it keeps getting bigger.”
 
Everyone who’s ever spent any time on the island knows that the donne is an essential ingredient in most dishes.
 
“Donne is important to Guam and our people because we love to eat hot and spicy food,” Ungacta said. “Food related activities in general tend to bring people together … and it’s just fun!”
 
The festival benefits the public because it actively promote local produce and products, according to Ungacta.
 
“Unlike other festivals, we like to make the farmers and ornamental planters the highlight of the festival,” Ungacta said. “In 2014, a majority of the plant and produce vendors sold out on the first night, which just shows that the general public is looking for fresh fruits and vegetables.”
 
Visit the festival and celebrate the spice of life!
 
 
Pepper up your health, whether it’s green, red or yellow
Peppers provide a variety of flavors to enhance cooking. Great news: they may also be good for your health.
 
Enhance the flavor of your food by incorporating peppers into your meals. Adding hot peppers to chicken and fish improves the taste and limits the need for added fats or salt. Sweet peppers perk up salads, pasta, rice and meat, fish and poultry.
 
Peppers are also rich in phytochemicals that appear to provide anti-inflammatory benefits. Preliminary research shows capsaicin may act as a blood thinner.
 
Hot peppers have the highest amount of capsaicin while sweet, green, red or yellow peppers have less. Whatever color you prefer, choose firm, shiny peppers for the best flavor.
 
– American Dietetic Association: Your Link to Nutrition & Health
 
 
2018 Donne Festival Events
Sept. 14, 6:30 – 9 p.m.
Welcoming remarks by Mayor (6:30 p.m.)
Blessings by Cultural Dancers: I Mane’lu Cultural Arts Program
Fireworks (7 p.m.) / Live Band  / Mini Carnival in conjunction with Santa Teresita Catholic Church: Games & Rides
 
Sept. 15, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Food Competition (Kadun Pika) / Entertainment: Cultural Dancers
Food Competition (Dinance Competition)
Mini Carnival in conjunction with Santa Teresita Catholic Church: Games & Rides
 
Sept. 16, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Food Competition (Chili Competition) / Live Band 
Food Competition (Pika Dessert Competition) / Fireworks (7 p.m.)
Mini Carnival in conjunction with Santa Teresita Catholic Church: Games & Rides
 
For more information about Mangilao Donne Festival, see its official facebook page (www.facebook.com/mangilaodonnefest/) or call the Mangilao Mayor’s Office at 671-734-2163.
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