Yipao -- Jeep Willys

Every year in June, the town of Calarcá, Quindío, hosts the annual YIPAO parade and festival. The term Yipao is actually derived from the English word for JEEP, as the festival pays homeage to the American made Jeep Willys that have become a symbol of the coffee growing region.

In the mid 1940's, the first jeeps began to arrive in the region. Originally, they were imported by the Colombian Ministry of Defense, but soon the farmers in the coffee growing region began to purchase them because of the ease with which they traversed the difficult roads in the area. Soon, they were the main source of transportation for all sorts of agricultural products.

The festival last for 5 days and culminates in a parade of Willys and a competition. The parade has beeen listed in Guinness as the longest Jeep parade.

The competition has several categories and prizes are awarded for:

1. The best transporation of agricultural products. In this category you will see Jeeps loaded with such items as coffee, bananas or other fruits, firewood, yucca or other products.

2. The best transportation of items on moving day (trasteo). Here jeeps will be loaded with the maximum number of household items -- from furniture to fans, from pots and pans to pictures, from chickens to clothes. Anything that might need to be moved from one house to another.

3. The best transportation free category. Here people get creative and try to come up with interesting things to move. In the past this category has seen the transportation of soccer teams, animals, shoes, etc.

4. The best transportation of heavy weight. Here each Jeep must weigh in with 1,800 kg of coffee. The coffee must be placed in such a way that the front tires of the Jeep do not touch the ground and the Jeep moves on its back tires.



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