Panama's national television network is claiming that the Flowers and Coffee Festival has already received 66,000 visitors. Up to 130,000 visitors are anticipated. According to Reynaldo Serracin, president of the Festival Board, Boquete businesses are slated to benefit to the tune of eight million dollars. He specifically mentioned transportation and hostels being among others. Nevertheless, vendors are reporting slower than average sales this year.
Every year around Feria time the expat community braces for the event and complains bitterly about the noise and disruption to routine. I have often wished I had a dollar for every negative comment or complaint voiced by my fellow americans. My income would rival that of the projected 8 million. One specific expat businessmen [of a local tile company] told me they shut down during the Feria because keeping open is a waste of time and money. "The only business that does well during the Feria is El Sabroson," he lamented.
Whether this is true or not, the fact remains that the Feria is steeped in Panama tradition and revered by locals and cityfolk alike. Panamanian friends have told me of an unpopular coup attempt years back, by wealthy expats, to purchase the fairgrounds in order to control activities and abolish the Feria. Though unsuccessful, the mere attempt created enough resentment amongst the locals to last a few lifetimes. Will we never learn?