San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
oniony goodness

Meet the farmers at this year's Onion Festival

The 23rd edition of the Onion Festival is being held now in Santa Ana in all its yellow, white and purple glory. The Tico Times paid a visit on Thursday March 19, catching the festivities, held in the park in front of the Catholic Church of Santa Ana, in full swing and enjoying local onions in a vivid range of colors and flavors you won’t find in your average produce section.

There are two parts in the country where the onion grows very well, Santa Ana and Cartago, with Santa Ana’s onions characterized by their dryness. The Festival aims to support farmers in and around the western Central Valley town.

“We are always trying to sell the best quality onions, rather than the greatest quantity,” said farmer and fair participant Danilo Montoya from Salitral, Santa Ana.

“The Onion Festival has been a success all these years because the organizers have managed the publicity of the cultural aspect very well, as well as the product itself,” said Edwin Jiménez, another local farmer and seller at the fair, who added that farmers’ families and friends join in the celebration.

The onion harvest season tends to be from January until April; for that reason, the Onion Festival is always held during the first months of the year. Jiménez explained that the onions he sells are called summer onions because of their dryness.

Every year the fair is dedicated to someone that is directly associated with onion production. Jiménez told The Tico Times that three years ago, his father was the local farmer to whom the Onion Festival was dedicated. The love for onions in the Jiménez family has been passed from generation to generation. This year’s fair is dedicated to the engineer José Martí Jiménez Bermúdez.

As the farmer spoke, he was “braiding” various onions. This is a way in which the onions are placed or organized in order to sell them all together. “It is an art,” said Jiménez. The braiding consists of accommodating the onions in a way that is both appealing to the eye, yet functions in a manner that holds them steadily. It looks as an easy task to do, but actually requires a deft touch and some serious endurance, since it can hurt your hands.

The Onion Festival will draw to a close Sunday, March 22, with an oxcart parade.

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