The party begins at 4 pm Thursday, and everybody’s invited. Phnom Penh’s top officials will open a 13-day exhibition in Chroy Chungva Park, across the river from the Royal Palace.
The exhibition, which runs through April 17, will showcase Cambodian products, arts and agriculture, said Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Seng Tong, who is organizing the festival.
“We will exhibit what we make and what our farmers grow, to show that we produce goods of reliable quality,” Seng Tong said. Items to be featured will include fruits, vegetables, palm sugar, smoked fish, hand-woven silks and much more. It will also showcase the new riverfront park, Seng Tong said. The exhibition will feature 256 booths, to be staffed by vendors, farmers and artists.
The site was buzzing Tuesday, as scores of workers hammered together rattan booths under brightly striped awnings, wired the stage for sound and laid concrete-tile walkways along the water.
The festival, scheduled to run daily from 7:30 am to 11 pm, will feature nightly performances of traditional Khmer theater and music.
“This is the first time we have tried something like this,” said Son Seng Huot, the site supervisor. “We hope it will be a success.” He said Governor Chea Sophara wants the city’s embassies, hotels and restaurants to see that Cambodia is producing top-quality fruits and vegetables. “Many of them are now importing these things, and it is not necessary to do so,” he said.
While most of the participants will be Phnom Penh residents, farmers from Kampot, Takeo, Siem Reap and Kandal provinces will also take part. Exhibitors will be assisted by 20 students from the Royal University of Fine Arts, who will teach techniques of good hygiene and artistic presentation.
Vendors, for example, must wear gloves and aprons if they are handling food. Food operations will be supervised by officials from the health department, Seng Tong said.
The city also plans its own booth, which will display products from the seven districts of Phnom Penh, such as handicrafts and factory goods.
The city hopes to promote the exhibition in the diplomatic community as well as among the city’s major tourist hotels. “We are trying our best to attract foreign tourists,” Seng Tong said.
To get to the new park, cross the Japanese Bridge and take the first right-hand turn onto Chroy Chungva peninsula. Head south about 1 km to a T-intersection; turn right onto a smaller dirt road toward the river, then take a left at the river and continue south.
Pedestrians can hail one of the small ferries that dock on the riverfront across from Wat Ounalom for a 500 riel (about $0.12) trip across the river.
(Additional reporting by Jody McPhillips)