Idanre Town in Ondo State is in festivities as the much publicized Mare Festival in the town got underway, Thursday, with celebrations and glitz.
The festival of the Idanre people in Ondo is debuting with a blend of sports, cultural, musical and carnival performances, painting the town in expectant mood for the thousands of visitors expected to throng the ancient settlement in the celebrations that ends this weekend.
The cultural feast is being organized by the state Ministry of Culture and Tourism in collaboration with Motherland Beckons organisation as part of effort to promote the tourism potentials and draw attention to Idanre town, which is most famed for its rocky plains, cultural and historical antecedents.
It is a 3-part event with the full entertainment and culture repertoire of the people of Ondo State on display with the full complement of other entertaining troupes from across the country while the Atunda Entertainment Group is expected to lead the entire pack.
According to Mr. Wanle Akinboboye who is heading the entire packaging of the three days festivities, Idanre town is the place to be at this time of the year to witness the best of Nigeria's cultural riches and beauty.
He informed that a lot of Nigerian musical acts and troupes have been lined up to perform during the event with the opening ceremony promising to be a very colourful and exciting gathering, which expectedly would signpost what people would be treated to during the life span of the festival that is envisaged to be an annual gathering in the tourism calendar of the state.
Akinboboye informed that the festival, which enjoys the support of the corporate world, is the world's first ever tropical, eco-tourism, mountain climbing, musical, cultural carnival and educational fiesta. It is set against the backdrop of the magnificent Idanre Hills in the state.
With its uniqueness in combining cultural entertainment and education alongside extreme sports, the MÃ¡re Festival looks set to make a global impact on the international festival calendar.
Prior to its planned opening this week, the festival witnessed several test runs, which attracted a lot of following and some world renowned mountaineers with the world famous Di Gilbert from Scotland, the only female climber in the world to have led a climbing expedition up the world's highest peak, Mount Everest, taking part in the test run.
As part of the awareness campaign, Gilbert and her team visited some of the schools in Idanre to drum up support for the festival, especially the rock climbing event, which is novel to the community and the entire state even though the undulating and rocky hills of Idanre has exited for hundreds of years.
Some of the activities slated for the festival include music, dance, mountain-climbing, parachuting, air-gliding, hiking, exploration, and Kamp Africa for children where the children are expected to be taken through some practical lessons on Nigeria culture, art and craft.
Atunda Entertainment Group is also billed to put up a theatrical performance -Odigbose, a dramatic script that eulogises the Nigerian culture written by Wanle. It depicts the advent of slavery along the West African coastline in the 17th Century.
Another theatrical performance slated for the festival is 'Ajo.' It is a musical passage-of-rites story about a man's journey through the cultural, social and political changes in Nigeria. Told mostly through catchy songs and complicated dance sequences, Ajo is pure and unadulterated entertainment.
An aspect of the festival that is sure to be a box office event is what would be a play back of the age long tradition and culture of the people of Idanre as there plans to have on display an elaborate depictions of ancient, traditional weddings, naming ceremonies, a court trial in session alongside pristine and rustic everyday activities such as women heading to the local stream to wash clothes, hunters in search of their prey, children listening to moonlight tales and inhabitants generally going about their business.
There will be some rules in place however and this will involve attendees having no physical or verbal interaction with the actors re-enacting that period. Visitors will simply observe, listen and learn.
Also, the festival is expected to boost the economy of the state and in particular that of Idanre and its neighbouring towns as various food vendors, hospitality homes and others are gearing up for the event.
As stated by the state Commissioner for information, Mr. Ranti Akerele, "this festival will bring big business to Idanre. Look at me... I've brought this bottle of water. If I was not in Idanre for the festival, I wouldn't have bought it. This is a tremendous opportunity for the people of Idanre".
The festival would also put Idanre firmly on the tourist map, not only in Nigeria but across the globe. It gives the exercise those extra - added brownie points towards its global credibility. This can only mean better days ahead for the indigenes and Ondo State as a viable tourist destination.
Part of the excitement of the festival is helicopter ride for fun seeker wishing to have a bird eye of the hill. The ride, which comes with a fee is expected to span 20 minutes with over 3, 000 feet above the sea level to conquer.
For those adventurous enough to go on rock climbing expect to cover over 658 steps leading to the summit of Ularan Hill of Idanre.
Visitors would also have a feel of the wilderness express, as the organisers have constructed hundreds of large tents to cater for people. Thus is to complement the limited hotel rooms available within the town and its environs.