Aiming to revitalize Hakka settlements along Provincial Highway 3 (also known as Taiwan Romantic Route 3), the Romantic Route 3 Arts Festival co-organized by the Hakka Affairs Council and five regional governments is taking place in Taipei City, Taoyuan City, Hsinchu County, Miaoli County, and Taichung City from Oct.19 through Dec. 15. Accompanied by Miaoli County Deputy Magistrate Deng Gui-ju (鄧桂菊) and lawmaker Hsu Chih-jung (徐志榮), Hakka Affairs Council (HAC) Deputy Minister Yiong Cong-ziin (楊長鎮) attended the opening ceremony of the Miaoli leg of the Hakka festival in Dahu Township on Oct. 26. Conducting traditional rituals, Deputy Minister Yiong and other officials lit incense and offered wine to worship the deities of nature with respect. After the solemn ceremony, performances by a group of singers — including Ayugo Huang (黃連煜), Huang Wei-jie (黃瑋傑), Ilid Kaolo (以莉高露), Lo Yin-yin (羅茵茵), and Vivien Loh (盧苑儀) — were given to honor the guardians of land and rivers with beautiful songs. Deputy Minister Yiong stated that Miaoli’s Dahu has a unique natural landscape of irrigation canals, as the township is nationally renowned for its strawberries. Through this cultural event, visitors can explore both local specialty products and less-known stories about Hakka settlements in this region, he added. Yiong further noted that recently many Japanese tourists have participated in the festival and their reactions have been quite positive. Akin to Japan’s Setouchi Triennale, the Romantic Route 3 Arts Festival unifies central and local government agencies to invite excellent designers and artists to jointly present a contemporary arts fest featuring local characteristics, he explained. Yiong added that, by integrating cultural experiences with tourism, the festival topples the stereotypes associated with Hakka culture, highlights the intimate connection between people and their land, and injects modern energy into Hakka traditions. Participating artists Eleng Luluan (安聖惠), Iyo Kacaw (伊祐噶照), Feng Cheng-tsung (范承宗), and Weng Yi-han (翁已涵) have set up their art installations at Dahu’s Dawo Ecological Park (大窩生態園區) for festival-goers to experience the beauty of Hakka culture with their five senses. More information can be found on the festival’s Facebook page.