KOTA KINABALU: The much anticipated annual Sabah Fest is back this year promising to impress the audience with the sound of music and dance performances exemplifying the cultures of the West Coast areas of the State.

Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Masidi Manjun in disclosing this yesterday said that this largest cultural event will be held from May 3-5 at the newly-opened auditorium of the Department of Culture and Arts Sabah (JKNNS).

A string of fringe events will also take place outside the venue to offer visitors a complete cultural journey.

Handicraft-making demonstrations by local experts, pocket shows of traditional music and dance performances as well as traditional foods to sample are all part of the cultural extravaganza which are opened to the public from 10am to 10pm over the three days.

The highlight will be a cultural performance, showcasing the adventures of Ngarayang, an intrepid barter trader in the Sabah days of old.

“The story manifests itself in the form of a young adventurer named Ngarayang meaning ‘trader’ and that suited him fine as he plied the west coast of Sabah bartering and distributing a variety of goods much sought after by the coastal communities.

“However, Ngarayang transacted more than just material goods. Gifted with a charming demeanour and a flair for storytelling, he captivated his audience wherever he went with wonderous stories of his travels and tales of cultures he encountered.

“On one of his journeys, the charms of a beautiful princess captured his heart, and while tales of mystical rituals, captivating dances and mesmerising music in a land of exotic people and cultures fascinated him, his heart yearned to see his princess again,” said Masidi sharing the plot of the Adventures of Ngarayang.

He, however, declined to disclose the end of the story, but encouraged the public to come and find out for themselves at the fest.

Showcasing this year’s production of ‘The Adventures of Ngarayang’ are the Bonggi by the Adat Bebalang and Tabadak dances, the Dusun Kimaragang with their Pinakang dance, the Lotud donning the Sampangan cloth in their colourful and elaborate wedding ceremonies, the Sama with their Runsai Cagayan, the Dusun Menggatal Kuntau (martial arts), the Brunei Zapin Jamilah, the Bisaya Liliput dance and Bubu Mengalai ritual, and the Dusun Tatana Bakanjar martial arts integrated with the Moginum ritual and dance called Sayau Loyop.

Masidi said the cost of organising the event was close to RM500,000, adding that most of the costing went towards bringing some 400 local performers from their respective areas to the State capital.

“The sale of tickets may not be able to cover even half the expenditure to produce the event, but we are happy as this is our way of contributing towards promoting Sabah cultures,” he said.

The cultural extravaganza stage performance will start at 8.30pm while the launching will be held during the premier show on May 4 by Head of State Tun Juhar Mahiruddin and Toh Puan Norlida Datuk R M Jasni as well as Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman and Datin Seri Faridah Tussin.

Tickets are priced at RM30 and RM50 per show.

Further details are obtainable from Jane Lai of Sri Perlancongan Sabah at 088-232121 or Shirley Teo of Sabah Tourism Board (088-212121), e-mail: info@sabahtourism.com or visit the website at www.sabahfest.com/www.sabahtourism.com.

Source : The Borneo Post