When slavery was legal in Colombia, silleteros (or enslaved porters) would carry heavy cargo — and even people — on their backs up the steep hills of this Andean nation. After emancipation in 1851, freed silleteros would make a living by carrying large amounts of flowers around the South American country. Over time, an art form developed as silleteros would make intricate floral designs (or silletas) to sell and show off. Pretty soon an annual event, La Feria de las Flores sprung up in the city of Medellin. This Sunday, the time-honored tradition takes center stage in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park as silleteros from Medellin will participate in the Multicultural Flower Festival, which will include folkloric dances, live world music and an arts fair. It will actually be extremely multi-cultural, with participants from Brazil, China, Ecuador, India, Bolivia, Mexico, Ireland, Bangladesh, Italy and Greece celebrating liberty and the beauty of life. Plus, the public is invited to see the silleteros in action and their silletas on display (above) at the Queens Botanical Garden on Aug. 16 and 17 and Aug. 20 – 24 in the crabapple orchard between 10 am and 5 pm.
Details: Multicultural Flower Festival, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, the children’s playground at 111th Street and 54th Avenue, Aug. 18, 10 am.
Bonus details: Great Flower Parade 2013, Central Park West and 106th Street, Manhattan, Aug. 25, 10 am, free.