Colombia’s ‘floral back packers’ keep century- old tradition alive

Love is in the air at Medellín’s annual Feria de las Flores and Desfile de Silleteros.

MEDELLIN, Colombia: It’s boasted as one of the world’s most iconic flower parades and also this year flower growers from the Eastern Antioquia region could not wait to be part of the Desfile de Silleteros.

Silleteros derives from the Spanish word silla for chair and litterally means chair-carrier. The term is used to indicate the peasants from the mountaneous Antioquia region that once strapped chairs on their back to transport goods, furniture, fruits vegetables, and even sick people down to the valley.

Today, the Silleteros carry voluminous flower arrangements – or silletas -on their back as they parade through the Atanasio Girardot stadium in Medellín. This happens every year as spectacular opening act of the city’s Feria de las Flores.

“Bringing in more than 500,000 chrysanthemums and hydrangeas, and other cut flowers grown by its members in Eastern Antioquia, Asocolflores joined the commemoration of the 2021 Feria de las Flores, which took place between 12 until 22 August, 2021. “With our presence Asocolflores wanted to emphasise on the ‘reopening’  of what is one of the country’s most important economic drivers,” says Augusto Solano, president of Asocolflores.

The flowers of Asocolflores took centre stage during the Silleteros Parade on 7 August, a colourful ante premiere of the flower show that opened five days later.

Feria de las Flores also spotlighted cultural offerings by other Colombian artists, dance and cuisine, and flowers adorned the many events.

Marcos Ossa, Director of Asocolflores in Antioquia, notes that “with an investment of COP $280 million and in a joint effort with the Mayor’s Office of Medellín, as well as with the Secretariat of Culture and Economic Development and the Corporation of Silleteros [a local trade union], the Desfile de Silleteros and Feria de las Flores celebrate life, paying tribute to our traditions and showing the world that, today more than ever, the flower sector continues to be present, committed and active in the development of its communities of influence.”

Medellín’s flower festival is one of the most outstanding showcases for the sector attracting thousands of tourists from different countries around the world. The event puts Colombian grown cut flowers on the world map highlighting the colours, variety, texture, quality, and long life shelf life of the blooms. Colombia’s flowers are exported to more than 100 countries in the world.

Asocolflores´ President concludes “We must show commitment and caution when attending events such as Feria de las Flores. This is the perfect occasion that reminds us that only through Covid vaccination will we be able to continue enjoying events like this. What’s more,  caring for the health of others is the best way out of the crisis that we are going through.”


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