If the spice of island life could be narrowed down to a key component, Guam’s spice of life might very well be the donne’ (pepper). Donne’ is a staple ingredient in Chamorro cuisine, and it is essential in a wide range of local dishes including kelaguen, pickled mango and papaya, barbeque marinades, and Guam’s signature dipping sauce, finadene. Just about anything on a fiesta table can be, and often is, kicked up a notch with local pepper. In fact, Guam loves pika (hot and spicy) so much that every year a popular festival is held to celebrate the red-hot local pepper.
The Mangilao Donne’ Festival, held every year in September, is a weekend event devoted to Guam’s beloved hot pepper. Cooking competitions are held to determine who can stand the heat and who makes the best kadun pika (spicy chicken stew), dinache (hot sauce) and chili. Vendors sell snack foods, fiesta plates and icy drinks while others sell handcrafted items, gifts and souvenirs. Carnival games entice children with toys and even cute rabbits and birds as prizes. And it wouldn’t be a Guam celebration without the smell of barbecue wafting from hot smoky grills or the sound of local musicians playing island tunes.
Local farmers and horticulturalists also set up shop at the festival and display rows of local produce and plants, including local and international pepper plants. This is everyone’s chance to purchase and take home a pepper plant, ensuring a personal year-round supply of hot peppers.
The Mangilao Donne’ Festival is a fun-filled family event that features hot peppers, food, entertainment, games and activities. Mangilao Mayor Nito Blas says the Donne’ Festival has grown steadily since it began five years ago and just gets hotter and hotter every year. Mayor Blas welcomes everyone to visit Mangilao, a village in central Guam that has a rich history of agriculture.
After the Donne’ Festival, you might be interested in visiting Guam’s higher education campuses, the University of Guam and Guam Community College, both located in Mangilao. Also located in Mangilao are the remnants of a large latte village known as Pagat. It is a popular hiking spot that is included on the Guam Register of Historic Places as well as the National Register of Historic Places.