Miraflores’ annual Pitahaya Festival celebrates the harvesting of delicious cactus fruit.
“Pitahaya” is the word in Spanish for cactus fruit. In Baja, cacti of the genus Stenocereus, Pitahaya Dulce (sweet pitahaya) and Pitahaya Agria (bitter pitaya), are sought for their sweet fruit, but all cacti produce fruit of different quality.
Not only is pitahaya fruit delicious, it’s known to be full of antioxidants.
Miraflores’ pitahaya festival was the creation of one of the town’s mayors who recognized the economic benefits realized by Cabo San Lucas from their regular fishing competitions. Wanting his community to benefit similarly, he came up with a different kind of competition to draw spectators and their money. Miraflores may not have oceanfront, but it is blessed with vast forests of Pitahaya cactus, as one discovers if they venture out to the desert surrounding the town.
The lovely pitahaya flower is also edible, and often used to make tea.
Every July, when the cacti are teeming with ripening fruit, the festival is organized around a pitahaya gathering contest. Participants gather as much fruit as possible and competitions are held for the largest fruit gathered, best presentation of a collection of fruit, greatest variety collected, and, of course, the greatest quantity of fruit gathered by any one competitor.
The festival includes a number of cultural and gastronomical events, including exhibitions of traditional dance, music, and plenty of delectable food, many incorporating the pitahaya fruit among the ingredients. Local artisans and businesses sell their wares from booths erected in the town’s cultural center. The three day event culminates on Sunday with the announcement of winners of the fruit gathering competitions and crowning of the festival queen. A big party commences that evening, with live music and dancing into the wee hours.
This is certainly one of the most flavorful and unique festivals in the East Cape firmly rooted in the ancient history of the land. So don’t miss it! Festival dates are dependent on the ripeness of the fruit, but the 2016 festival is currently slated for the third weekend of July, with the queen to be crowned on Sunday, July 17th.