We decided to complete the trifecta of highlands cultural shows and make our first PNG roadtrip as a family of five by going to the 60th Goroka Show.
We drove the 4 hours to Goroka, two provinces away – about 90 miles – with a stop at a coffee factory to stretch our legs, get snacks, and drink coffee, of course. The children endured the bumpy ride pretty well.
We stayed two nights at Kefamo Conference Centre, run by the Diocese of Goroka, where we stayed when we visited Goroka with Fr. Clement 3 years ago. We had a two-bedroom, two-bath cottage to ourselves (Tobiah slept in one bathroom!) There was a large group of Polish tourists there too. We enjoyed their delicious food and access to their little library’s fiction section. As a souvenir we bought 4 liters of honey from their beehives.
The first day of the show, Friday, we headed off to the showgrounds to find them very muddy, as Emeritus Bishop Francesco had predicted at breakfast. The showgrounds were divided into two; one for dancing, which was mostly empty when we arrived, aside from some mudmen huddling under a tarp to escape the drizzle.
The other section contained the PNG equivalent of a county fair – lots of concession stands, a few carnival games, booths promoting non-profit work or local businesses, agricultural demonstrations, etc. Two greased poles stood ready with prizes at the top, laughter came from the rugby-ball-chucking contest, and people wandered about wearing odd yellow hats a bank was passing out.
The girls enjoyed the pony rides. We found an agricultural booth demonstrating fish ponds, grape-growing, and the medicinal properties of pandanus oil, and another giving advice to PNG farmers on how to grow and market zucchini. A third booth contained the flower show, with arrangements labelled according to complexity.
It turned out that the only thing scheduled for Friday was a “pikinini show,” and a small ceremony to officially open the show. There was a brass band with actual brass instruments, though (as opposed to a drum corps, which is what ‘brass band’ usually signifies in PNG English).
After that, we waded through the mud to the museum. It was fairly dated compared to the one in Wabag, but it was superior to anything in Jiwaka or Western Highlands, where we have zero museums. We would recommend it, but we hope that it gets freshened up sometime.
Saturday was sunny and even pretty dry underfoot. We passed some singsing groups on their way to the showgrounds as we drove in that morning.
After we managed to wiggle our way through the press of people in the streets, we joined the crowds of tourists in the first arena to photograph the singsing groups as they entered. It was amusing to people-watch the tourists, as well!
One of the reasons we decided to come to the Goroka show was to see more bilas from the coastal and islands region. We were intrigued to see these gentlemen from the Ramu valley with their large helmets decorated with thousands of shiny green beetles, whom we had read about but never encountered in person before.
We walked around and found some groups we hadn’t seen come in the gate. There were a few jam bands with a variety of instruments.
Anastasia’s very favorite were these female dancers from Manus, with their quick feet movements. Although she was also very intrigued by the kickboxing demonstration given by the local karate club elsewhere on the showgrounds.
Going to the Goroka show inspired Annie to take up traditional dancing again… stay tuned for pictures!