On March 5th 2016, the 13th annual Baulas Festival filled the main street of Playa Grande, Costa Rica in celebration of the endangered East Pacific leatherback sea turtle. The event was organized by Rotney Piedra, the Administrator of Las Baulas National Park, and Elizabeth Vélez, of Kuemar, and sponsored by The Leatherback Trust.
The event kicked off with a parade, where the children from Playa Grande, Matapalo and other communities outside of the province marched with mascot Toño Pizote (the equivalent of Smokey Bear in Costa Rica), along with live music and dancing. They were joined by The Leatherback Trust’s student group from Bishop Dwenger High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Fernando Mora Rodríguez, the Vice Minister of Water, Coasts and Wetlands, along with Nelson Marín, the Director of ACT (Área de Conservación Tempisque), and Patricia Madrigal, the Vice Minister of the Environment of Costa Rica, joined the festivities and gave speeches recognizing those who have played an integral role in the development and maintenance of Las Baulas National Park.
Volunteers from the University of Costa Rica helped run the event, with Ivan Diaz serving as MC to introduce dancing and acting skits centered on sea turtle conservation. Performances by Escuela San Francisco, CEUNA, Kids of Matapalo Local Guide Association, Shakas team, Playa Grande School, Matapalo School, and others entertained the crowd of more than 200 people. There were also vendors selling jewelry and food as well as activities for children like face painting.
The grand finale for the event was a ribbon cutting ceremony to inaugurate a new kiosk donated by The Leatherback Trust for the Las Baulas National Park main entrance. This entrance kiosk will help park guides better track and educate visitors. By cultivating better awareness of and among the people using Playa Grande, we will further help protect the sea turtles that nest here!
The Baulas Festival takes place on the first Saturday of March every year. The Leatherback Trust, with the generous support from the Disney Conservation Fund, sponsors and participates in the festival as a way to educate youth and motivate members of the Playa Grande community to protect sea turtles. We invite you join us for Baulas Festival 2017 -- like our Facebook page to stay involved and updated on sea turtle conservation activities in your community.