This weekend was as is normally the way warm and sunny in Paraguay. To make the weekend even better there was a festival to go to.

That was held on Sunday in Paraguari. A festival of food.

For the first time the town was hosting an International Food Festival. Judging by the crowds it will not be the last.

Paraguari is a good sized town with all the facilities a town of it’s size would require. That includes venues suitable for housing events. These include a number of football grounds and such like.

The food festival was not held in one of those but instead at a new sports complex behind the old railway station. Here there was a large open but roofed area and next door an indoors sports hall.

It was the outdoor space that was used for the festival. The indoors hall was hosting a chess tournament but was used by some performers for their final preparations.

As I arrived I saw just how many people had come out to Paraguari for a Sunday afternoon. The streets and every bit of grass around the venue had been turned into a temporary car park.

Free parking of course along with free entry to the festival.

On top of all those arriving by there own means there was also an open topped bus travelling backwards and forwards between Paraguari and Asuncion all day bringing out groups of excited tourists.

I passed the bus just outside Paraguari. It made a very unusual sight out in the Paraguayan countryside.

Once I had parked up I headed inside to join the crowds and find out exactly what was going on.

And there were crowds, all sampling flavours from around the world.

The first thing I passed was a stall crushing sugar cane to extract the juice. That produces and cold refreshing drink known here as Mosto.

After seeing the Mosto stall at work I headed into the open air hall to see what was there. By the sheer number of people walking around with food in their hands it was clear the answer was going to be snack foods.

It may have been an International Festival but it would have been unthinkable for there not to have been Paraguayan food on offer.

The stalls selling that were on the whole along one side of the hall. Those had on them the usual Paraguayan barbecue as well as the more uniquely Paraguayan foods such as Sopa and Chipa.

Around the remaining sides of the hall stalls offering foods from all across the world had been laid out.

International foods are not a common sight in Paraguay. Often they involve considerable time and effort to obtain or are simply not available. Yet here they all were for everyone to experience.

The line up of flag covered stalls started with one from Israel and then one from the Ukraine. Food prepared by members of those communities living here in Paraguay.

Next things took a more Latin turn with offerings from Venezuela and Chile. Tasty and traditional streets foods.

After that was the produce of the local German community followed by offerings from a local organic farm.

Then finally along that side of the hall was in the corner a stall selling Japanese foods. Those manning that stall had gone the extra mile in their display. Not only was the stall decked out in Japanese flags but the staff were dressed Japanese style.

Beyond Japan and along the next side of the hall the international flavours continued.

First French, then Colombian and finally Mexican before one final stall where all the meat was rabbit.

There was so much to choose from that it took a while to decide which cuisine to try.

Eventually I settled on Venezuelan and ended up with something that was somewhat like a taco. Very nice and hot straight off the hotplate.

In addition to all the foods on offer the centre of the hall was filled with stall selling arts and crafts.

There were wood carvings, knives to cut the barbecued meat, cactus and hand crafted sauces and preserves. Plenty of bright and interesting objects to look over.

Furthermore as no Paraguayan festival would be complete without music and dancing. One end of the hall had been filled with a stage and dance floor.

Here visitors could take a seat and enjoy the various bands and displays of traditional Paraguayan music.

That was all very enjoyable, especially the Paraguayan dancing. However it was also the one failing of the festival.

Some of the bands, not helped by the tin roof, had their instruments turned up a little high. That did make it a little difficult to communicate with any of the sellers on the various food stalls.

However on such an overwhelmingly successful day that was just a small issue. One that I would hope will be rectified before the next International food festival.

Then finally outside for all those children who had had quite enough of being dragged around looking at food there were a couple of bouncy castles to play on.

All in all it was a very good afternoon and demonstrated that there is an appetite and audience for such events out in the countryside beyond Asuncion.

I look forward to it’s return and the arrival of other events with anticipation.