Cobán’s Folkloric Festival

Contestants from the 2010 Rabin Ajau pageant in Cobán. (photo: Thor Janson)

Contestants from the 2010 Rabin Ajau pageant in Cobán. (photo: Thor Janson)

In 1936 Cobán prospered greatly from coffee exports to Europe. A group of leading businessmen decided that it was time to organize a regional fair, and so the inaugural “Feria Departamental” was planned for the first week in August.

As part of the event it was decided to elect two queens, one representing the European population and the other chosen from among the indigenous Maya. The first Ladino queen was given the title “Flor de Café”—Coffee Flower—and the winner was Florence Hempsted Disseldorff, the daughter of a prominent coffee baron. The indigenous title “India Bonita Cobanera”—Beautiful Cobán Indian Girl—was bestowed upon a young lass by the name of Armenia Macz.

Forty years later, with the idea of enlarging the indigenous event and to include candidates from all over the county, it evolved into what we have today: the Rabin Ajau, Guatemala’s National Folkloric Festival.

My friend and host when I am in Alta Verapaz is José Sierra, secretary of communications for Cobán. He extends a warm welcome to one and all who wish to attend this year’s pageant, which will begin at 4 p.m. Saturday, July 30, at the INJUD Sports Complex gym in Cobán.

Mr. Sierra also encourages guests to enjoy all the other features of the annual Cobán Festival during the first week of August, as well as paying a visit to one or more of the natural wonders of Alta Verapaz, such as Lanquín Cave and the world-renowned Semuc Champey Nature Reserve.

One comment

  • gunther nova

    …….it would be fascinating, having met many Germans during my
    years in Guatemala, to see what had become of Florence H. Disseldorff.
    Photographs from 1930’s?…..looking forward to your future articles.

    Gunther ‘wavy davey’ Nova.

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