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Monday, March 21, 2011

Sweet success for Rota’s sweet potato festival

Marianas Variety
March 21, 2011

ROTA — Locals and tourists got the chance to try over 30 delicious varieties of this island’s main root crop during its first annual Sweet Potato Festival over the weekend.
The downpour did not hinder the crowd from heading to the stalls at the Metkaon Luta Ground in Sinapalo on Thursday evening where over 20 participants conducted  demonstrations on the different ways of cooking sweet potatoes. They also displayed ready-to-eat sweet potato products for sampling.
“We have the best sweet potatoes and we have industrious farmers on island. With this combination, we can market our sweet potatoes and make them  a brand of Rota,” Mayor Melchor A. Mendiola said in his message.
“Sweet potato is something that we already have, resources that is within our means to help us spur the economy so let’s tap into the abundance of this product toward progress,” he added.
Overall event chairwoman Julie Calvo of the Rota Department of Cultural Community Affairs said they hope to help  farmers in promoting sweet potatoes not only to the neighboring islands but to other parts of the world.
Calvo said some of the participants who did not register just brought their finished products for the food sampling on Thursday night.
On March 15-16, farmers attended workshops conducted by speakers from Northern Marianas College-Cooperative Research and Extension Education Services, the University of Guam and other experts. The workshops were held at As Paris Restaurant in Songsong.
Among the categories submitted for sampling and demonstration on Thursday were sweet potato salad, ice cup, cookies, alaguan, saibok kamuti or sweet potato with coconut cream, titiyas kamuti or tortillas, pancake, crunch, sweet fritters potato, tarts, sweet potato shrimp tempura, sweet potato porridge, bread, bunelos kamuti, sweet potato with coconut milk, pies, chips, cheese cake, barbeque, twists, sweet potato leaves salad, baked sweet potatoes and more variations.
The theme was “Eat healthy, Eat Kamuti, Our Tradition, Our Pride, Our Economy.”
Mendiola commended the organizers for holding a successful event.
“We hope to do this every year and encourage the residents to continue cultivating the sweet potato to help the island move toward progress,” he said.
The festival was also coordinated by the Women in Action, a group headed by the mayor’s wife, Estrella Mendiola.  The four-day event, which culminated with the start of the San Isidro fiesta celebration in Sinapalo on Friday evening, was attended by guests from Guam, Saipan, Tinian and other islands.