Tinian Hot Pepper Festival to debut mascot

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Posted on Feb 14 2019

The New England Patriots have Pat Patriot, the Chicago Bulls have Benny the Bull, Marianas Beer & BBQ Festival has Sir Besa, and Tinian Hot Pepper Festival has, well, everyone will find out this weekend!

A mascot for the Tinian Hot Pepper Festival, now celebrating its 15th year, will be unveiled at this weekend’s event. The festival is on Feb. 16-17.

“We are very excited to unveil the mascot for the Tinian Hot Pepper Festival,” said Marianas Visitors Authority marketing manager Thomas Kim. “With this being the first mascot ever created for the festival, we wanted to give it a name that tied-in with the festival theme hot pepper, so we have decided to name the mascot ‘Pika,’ which means ‘spicy’ in the Chamorro language. We look forward to bringing more creative ideas and activities to all our upcoming events.”

The full festival with live entertainment will be from 2pm to 9pm on Feb. 16 and from 10am to 9pm on Feb. 17. Food vendors only will also open at 10am on Feb. 16.

Activities during the weekend will include live entertainment, a variety of local dishes for sale, indigenous craft sales, and a variety of contests.

“We are grateful that despite the ravages of the recent typhoons, people are coming for the festival,” said MVA Tinian field supervisor Vida Borja. “The boost in days tour arrivals to our small island is very inspiring, and this event will surely be an added boost to the overall wonderful Tinian experience.”

Slots are still open for this weekend’s competitions with cash, phone prize packages, and other giveaways awaiting the winners.

Contests include the Katdon Pika (spicy stew) Cooking Contest and JC Café Pika Burger Eating Contest on Saturday and the hot pepper “mwar”-making (flower head lei) Contest, Hot Pepper Eating Contest and Pika Wing Eating Contest on Sunday at 3pm. The wing-eating contest will challenge contestants ages 18 and up to see who can eat the most number of wings in 15 minutes. First place wins $100 cash and a Samsung J6 Pro phone and three-month free service from IT&E, but anyone who can finish 30 wings in the allotted time will win an increased grand prize of $500 cash and the phone prize package. If more than one contestant finishes 30 wings in the allotted time, contestants will enter a “sudden death” round; the qualified contestants will each receive 15 minutes to see who can eat the most number of wings. Eventually, only one winner will earn the grand prize of $500 cash plus the phone prize package, or the $100 cash prize plus the phone prize package.

Non-cash prizes will be awarded for the kids’ “umang” (hermit crab) race, single elimination tug-of-war, and Cha Cha Dance Off. Contestants can sign up for the contests by visiting the MVA offices on Saipan or Tinian or at the MVA booth at the festival grounds.

Star Marianas Air, in cooperation with the Marianas Visitors Authority and Tinian Mayor’s Office, will extend its normal hours of operation during the festival. On Feb. 15-Feb. 17, scheduled flights will be extended by three hours, with the last flights leaving Tinian at 9:30pm. Flights will leave Saipan hourly at the top of the hour (starting at 7am) and Tinian hourly at the bottom of the hour (starting at 7:30am). Advanced bookings are accepted for Star Marianas, but travelers can also show up at the airport on Saipan or Tinian and expect to be transported in a timely fashion. To minimize airport waiting times, interested travelers are encouraged to contact Star Marianas Air’s reservations team at 1-670-433-9996/8 to find out if a particular time of the day is expected to be busier than others. For more information visit www.starmarianasair.com.

The MVA is also offering ferry service between Tinian and Saipan on Feb. 15-18, 2018. The ferry schedule is: Feb. 15, departing Saipan at 5pm and departing Tinian that evening; Feb. 16, departing Saipan at 9am and departing Tinian at 4pm; Feb. 17, departing Saipan at 9am and departing Tinian at 4pm; and Feb. 18, departing Saipan at 8am and departing Tinian at 12pm The Super Emerald ferry will depart from the Commonwealth Ports Authority dock in Lower Base. Passengers and must check in one hour before departure.

Ferry round trip cost is $25 for ages 3-11, $35 for ages 12 and older, and free for children ages 0-2. For one way, the cost is $10 for ages 3-11, $18 for ages 12 and older, and free for children ages 0-2. Advance ticket purchase is required and will be accommodated on a first come, first served basis. Ticket purchases may be made at the MVA Office on Tinian or Saipan. Cash payments only will be accepted.

Individuals arriving via the ferry will be shuttled directly to the festival grounds, and those departing via the ferry can catch the shuttle leaving the festival beginning an hour-and-a-half before ferry departure time. Individuals arriving or departing at Tinian International Airport can call for a shuttle at 1-670-783-4541 or visit the MVA information booth at the festival grounds for assistance.

The 65K Pika Bike Race will be held on Feb. 16 at 6am and will begin and end at the festival site at Kammer Beach. To register for the 65K Pika Bike Race and avail of free ferry on Feb. 15, bikers may contact Alex Gozon at alexgozon@yahoo.com or 1.670.234.5416 or Dawn Sarmiento at dawnsarmiento@yahoo.com. Bikers from Saipan who register for the race will be able to travel on the Feb. 15 ferry to Tinian at 5pm

The event is co-organized by the Tinian Mayor’s Office and Tinian Municipal Council and sponsored by Bicycling Association of Tinian and MVA members.

Campgrounds are open to the public at Kammer Beach, which has restrooms, outdoor showers, and five pavilions with sinks and barbecue grills.

Available hotels on island are Tinian Ocean View and Lorilynn’s Hotel.

Air service from Saipan to Tinian is provided by Star Marianas. Airport shuttle will be offered by the MVA to and from the festival site, which will be in San Jose village.

For more information on the Tinian Hot Pepper Festival, visit The Marianas Calendar at www.mymarianas.com or the MVA Facebook page, call the MVA Tinian office at 433-9365, or email Borja at vborja@mymarianas.com. (MVA)

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