The village of Talofofo is known as “God’s Country,” a place where cascading waterfalls rush through green valleys into rivers that run past caves full of stalagmites and ancient cave drawings. As the rainy season closes out through the spring and summer months, all of Guam’s villages prepare for each of the annual village festivals. Talofofo shines as it shows off its signature fruit during the Banana Festival.
Half of the fun of going to the festival is heading down south to Talofofo, either along the coast or through the center along Cross Island Road. The picturesque drive along the island’s eastern coast winds with the cliffs overlooking awe-inspiring views of Pago Bay. The drive through the mountainous center of the island is lined with tall, tropical trees, with the green and red hills of the village on either side.
The festival, held every year at Ipan Beach Park attracts visitors from all over the island to try the culinary delights. From fried bananas to stewed bananas to banana chips, there’s something new to try at the festival. The hunt for the tasty banana lumpia, or banana egg roll, ends at the Banana Festival. Three of the irresistible treats can be purchased for five dollars. At the heart of this deep fried snack is sweet banana flesh wrapped in a crunchy, crisp lumpia wrapper, which is then covered in a candy glaze of caramelized brown sugar.
Not only is the creamy, sweet banana flavor a delicious complement to any meal, the fruit is also one of the healthiest found in nature — and you can learn all about these nutritious qualities at the festival. Indulging in a banana once a day could help lower blood pressure, soothe heartburn or help with a hangover, thanks to the healthy doses of potassium included in every yellow, oblong pocket of goodness.
Gardeners and plant sellers put Talofofo’s flora on full display under a well decorated set of tents located behind a row of food vendors. Multi-colored bushes and shrubs are set on display around an ironwood tree, a proud example of the local foliage and the skill of the gardeners tending to the greenery. While some of us are green-thumbs and others have the ability to kill a cactus by looking at it, everyone can enjoy the sheer beauty of Talofofo’s abundance. Along with the young banana trees for sale, there are bromeliads and other succulents, pepper plants and fragrant flowering shrubs.
The family-friendly event is perfect for a weekend with a bunch of rambunctious kids eager to let their inner monkeys loose. Children can bounce off the walls in one of the many inflatable bouncing castles set up in the park. Nearby, a gentle-eyed carabao named E’chong nibbles on grass as he waits for the next brave little person to jump into the saddle on his back for a ride.
There is so much food and fun to be enjoyed every year at the Talofofo Banana Festival.