Homemade boat race, more at Tinian Hot Pepper Fest

Posted on Feb 13 2020

FILE—Competitors in the JC Café Pika Burger Eating Contest take their first bites at the 15th Annual Tinian Hot Pepper Festival on Feb. 16, 2019. The Marianas Visitors Authority and co-sponsor Tinian Mayor’s Office will hold the16th Annual Tinian Hot Pepper Festival on Feb. 15-16, 2020, at the Fiesta Grounds in San Jose village on Tinian, adjacent to Kammer Beach. (MVA)

A full weekend of games and competitions are set for the Tinian Hot Pepper Festival on Feb. 15-16, 2020, including a homemade boat race.

The festival will begin on Saturday, Feb. 15, from 2-11pm with food sales and live entertainment. Activities on Saturday include the 65K Pika Bike Race (6:30am), Pike Bike Race Awards (2pm), official opening ceremony (5pm), Tinian Jr./Sr. High JROTC presentation (5:30pm), Female Hot Pepper Eating Contest (5:40pm), The Originals (6pm), Tunadas Singers (6:15pm), Tao Tao Taga Cultural Dancers (7:15pm), Smarty Swag Dancers (7:45pm), solo performances by Jonilla Manuel, Nikki Manglona, and Letricia (8pm), Fit Beat Dancers (8:15pm), Tubera Siblings (8:45pm), Olei’s Band (9:30pm), Pacific Cool (10pm, and Marvin & Jay(10:30pm).

The festival will continue Sunday, Feb. 16, from 11am to 11pm Activities on Sunday include Estafao Pika Cooking Contest and E&J Band (11am), Costume Contest, Joe Sablan, and Olei’s Band (12pm), “Umang” (hermit crab) Race for boys and girls (2:45pm), Tug of War (3:15pm), Sack Race (3:45pm), JC Pikalicious Burger Eating Contest (4:15pm), The Originals (4:45pm), solo performances by Jonilla Manuel, Nikki Manglona, and Letricia (5pm), Male Hot Pepper Eating Contest (5:15pm), Tubera Siblings (5:45pm), Fit Beat Dancers (6:15pm), Saipan Music & Dance School (6:45pm), Smarty Swag (7:30pm), Olei’s Band (7:45pm), Chacha Dance Competition with Marvin Deleon Guerrero (8:45pm), and Pacific Cool (10am).

Entries in Sunday’s Costume Contest must be crafted of natural or recycled material and have a hot pepper theme. Costumes must be worn and will be judged based on creativity/attractiveness, adherence to theme, and effort exerted.

Activities will be highlighted on Sunday with a homemade boat race from 12pm to 2pm, featuring boats made on Tinian by local businesses, government offices, and families.

The program lineup is subject to change.

On Feb. 15 and 16, Star Marianas Air will be extending their flight service between Saipan and Tinian until 10:30pm for customers with advance booking. Passengers interested in flying during these extended hours should call Star Marianas reservations department at (670) 433-9996 / 9996 to make a booking.

“We’re very excited about this year’s Pika Festival,” said Star Marianas Air’s general manager Donna Cabrera said. “We hope our neighbors on Saipan will take advantage of our extended hours to enjoy the great entertainment, games and food being offered even if they don’t plan to spend the night on Tinian.”

The Marianas Visitors Authority’s ferry service between Tinian and Saipan on Feb. 14-17 is sold out.

The Tinian Hot Pepper Festival will be held at the Fiesta Grounds in San Jose, Tinian, adjacent to Jones Beach. This year’s major sponsor is IT&E. Additional sponsors include Saipan World Resort, Saipan Shipping Co., and JC Café.

The festival, affectionately knowns as “Pika Fest” among locals (pika means spicy), pays homage to Tinian’s small but famous donne Sali hot pepper. Activities will include dances, bands, and other live entertainment; cooking competitions, indigenous craft sales; and more. Festivalgoers will have the chance to purchase a variety of local dishes, join the umang (hermit crab) races, participate in sports activities, and join the hot pepper eating competition, itself.

Airport shuttle will be offered by the MVA to and from the festival site by calling

287-0479. Accommodations are available at Tinian Ocean View, Lorilynn’s Hotel, Tinian Street Motel, Fleming Hotel, Green Lion House Hotel, and the Marpo Valley Inn. Free camping is available at Kammer Beach, Taga Beach (toilets, barbecue pits, and outdoor showers available) and at the adjacent Tachogna Beach (toilets, barbecue pits, and indoor showers available).

To register for the 65K Pika Bike Race or for more information, contact Dawn Sarmiento at dawnsarmiento@yahoo.com or Alex Gozon at alexgozon@yahoo.com.

For more information, contact Tinian field operations supervisor Vida Borja at 433-9365 or email at vborja@mymarianas.com or MVA community project specialist Ray Villagomez at 664-3210 or rvillagomez@mymarianas.com. (PR)

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