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Int'l Night popularity still soaring

There's good news for members of the general public who are looking for a family-friendly place to take the kids and the entire gang on Friday nights.


First Friday at the Fagatogo Marketplace—which has been ongoing for the past year and draws hundreds of people to the downtown area to enjoy musical performances, entertainment and food items from different cultures—will now be held every Friday beginning next month.


Fagatogo Marketplace Manager Limutau Limutau explained that due to its popularity, they added a second International Night during the month, which was offered for the first time on the third Friday of this month (May 17) but even then, people were still requesting additional nights.


So the decision was made to hold International Night every Friday night beginning June 1.


First Friday began last year and has been a hit since it started. During these events, local residents are able to stroll through the marketplace as the aroma of delicious food lingers. Mouthwatering food items from different places around the world like China, Korea, Fiji, Tonga, India, the Philippines and of course, Samoa, are sold, in addition to other items like handicrafts and knick knacks.


In an interview with Samoa News earlier this week, Limutau said the plan to host International Night every Friday came about after they were bombarded by members of the public who insisted that another International Night be added to the Marketplace's monthly schedule, as one night out of the month is not enough, and sometimes their schedules conflict with First Friday.


"So it only made sense to re-work our schedule, to fulfill the requests from the local residents," Limutau added.


In its inaugural run last Friday, International Night featured performances by students of the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) who will be traveling to the independent state of Samoa to perform during Upolu's Flag Day celebration scheduled to take place on June 1. "The ASCC students did a remarkable job entertaining the crowd," Limutau said, adding that for the first Friday of June, employees of Star Kist Samoa will be providing entertainment.


He also noted that International Night will now include the sale of produce and items like seafood, bananas, and taro from the Manu’a Islands. A separate section of the Market will be reserved specifically for Manu'a vendors. Another addition will be the inclusion of local elei makers who will be invited to demonstrate their work and sell their creations.


Limutau said International Night is open to anyone who wants to perform, trade, or sell goods at the Fagatogo Marketplace. Youth groups, solo artists and bands who want to show off their stuff can call Limutau directly at 633-0263 to book a slot to perform during any Friday of the month for International Night.


Also, vendors who want to showcase their culinary skills can sell their cooked food items at the Market but they must first pay $10 which goes to the Department of Agriculture for use of a table at the Market, and an additional $5 to the ASG Revenue Office for a health permit.


The $10 table fee, according to a Samoa News source, goes to the Department of Agriculture which uses the monies collected to "maintain" the Fagatogo Marketplace. In the government's second quarter performance report which was released last week and covers the period from January to March 31, 2013, it revealed that the Public Market had overspent its FY 2013 budget by $45,686.


The Market falls under the Department of Commerce and the Department of Agriculture. Questions about the financial status of the Marketplace could not be answered by Limutau, who has only held the Market Manager position for several weeks. Samoa News attempts to contact Alex Zodiacal at the Department of Commerce and DOA Director Lealao M. Purcell for comments were unsuccessful.


The Fagatogo Marketplace is open Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. They are not open on Sundays.


Limutau said the goal of International Night is to offer to the general public, free of charge, something for the whole family to enjoy. He said International Night is a big hit, with hundreds of people passing through to experience and taste test the different types of food being offered, especially traditional Samoan food that the elderly population enjoy but hardly get a chance to savor.


It’s a place where one can find foods like fai'ai fe'e (octopus), fai'ai pusi (moray eel), and “limu” commonly known as sea grapes. Limu are caulerpa racemes, a species of green algae in the seaweed family, and a local delicacy.