‘Pika Fest is pilot for future events’

Posted on Feb 15 2021

TINIAN—With COVID-19 precautions in place, the Marianas Visitors Authority was able to push forward with Tinian’s annual, weekend-long Pika Festival from Feb. 13 to Feb. 14.

In an interview with MVA managing director Priscilla Iakopo, she said that MVA was able to host the annual Pika Festival because of the cooperation and compliance of the community. That success means the festival is being looked at as a pilot model for upcoming MVA events throughout the year.

Iakopo said Pika Fest came about because of much consideration from Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios, the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp., and the COVID-19 Task Force implementing safety measures and the community being in compliance with all precautions.

MVA set up a barricade around the Pika Festival grounds, and Iakopo said that it was to control who is going in and out of the event. “We’ve actually barricaded the area, so that way we can monitor and control the entry and the exit, and then we also have everybody wearing masks and having these wristbands to identify that they’ve actually checked in with MVA and their temperatures have been checked as well,” said Iakopo.

When asked if Saipan will see future signature events such as the Flame Tree Arts Festival, Taste of the Marianas, etc., Iakopo said that after the festival is done, MVA will have a meeting with CHCC and the COVID-19 Task Force to “see if there were any gaps that we might have to tighten or we missed anything,” which MVA will correct for future events.

More than 15 vendors were present at the festival. Saipan Tribune learned that all the booths had to submit guidelines to the task force, go through a sanitation process under the guidance of with the Bureau of Environmental Health, and submit documents to MVA, which is how they were able to be a vendor for the Pika Festival.

Tinian and Aguiguan Mayor Edwin P. Aldan said he understands that people might be nervous or even cautious, but it is important to “get back some sense of normalcy.”

“I understand that some people may be nervous and even more cautious that we are celebrating this year’s Pika Fest on a large scale compared to what we were used to this past year with less than 20 people in an area but I want you to understand how important it is for us to get back some sense of normalcy in our community because our economy and livelihood depend on it,” said Aldan.

Aldan reassured the community that MVA, the mayor’s office, and the task force have been working side-by-side when they made the decision to celebrate this year’s festival. He also assured that they will be following social distancing precautions under Gov. Ralph DLG Torres’ executive order to keep everyone safe throughout the weekend.

Justine Nauta | Correspondent
Justine Nauta is Saipan Tribune's community and health reporter and has covered a wide range of news beats, including the Northern Marianas College and Commonwealth Health Care Corp. She's currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitation and Human Services at NMC.
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