Autumn festival kicks off in Meinong

The Meinong Autumn & Winter Festival, instructed by the Hakka Affairs Council, will return to the southern Hakka community of Meinong from Sept. 30 through Nov. 25.

Under the theme “Fairy Tale in Meinong,” the annual festival will combine traditional art and culture of oil paper umbrellas and Hakka floral-pattern lanterns with local landscapes of irrigation system and Meinong Lake to showcase the beauty of the Hakka community.

Four large straw-made installations based on oil paintings featured harvest and peasant life, including “The Gleaners,” “Rest from Work,” and “The Angelus” by Jean-François Millet, as well as “La récolte des foins” by Julien Dupré, will be installed by the lake to highlight the agricultural industry in Meinong.

At the opening ceremony, Minister Lee Yung-de of the Hakka Affairs Council, who was born in Meinong, noted that the budget for organizing the festival is limit; however, the event offers a variety of activities, such as a market, indigo dye workshop, and food stalls.

Inspired by Meinong’s irrigation system, another activity will allow visitors to gain more understanding of the Hakka’s lifestyle through placing Hakka oil paper umbrellas and lanterns covered with floral pattern fabric along irrigation ditches in the town.

Following the festival, the Council will continue partnering with Meinong to hold the Meinong Radish Season, Liudui Sports Day, and a marathon from the end of December throughout next March for the public to experience cultural and natural landscape of the Hakka, added Minister Lee.

Regarding tourism in Meinong, Minister Lee suggested Meinong District Office promote local tourism through combining Hakka culture with the Zhu Zi Men Power Station (竹仔門發電廠), a historical site that is more than 100 years old.

Built in the Japanese colonial era, the power station took water from Laonong River to generate power for households in southern cities. After ceasing operations in 2003, the site has been registered as a historic monument to preserve its industrial and historical value.

In addition to tourism, Minister Lee also encouraged Meinong residents to speak Hakka language as Meinong, where Hakka people account for 86.6 % of its total population, serves as an important base for promoting Hakka culture and language in southern Taiwan. Moreover, the amendment to Hakka Basic Act has made Hakka a national language this January, ensuring the rights of speaking Hakka language in public places.