Mon, 08 Aug 1994

Jaksa Fair lures thousands of visitors

By Lenah Susianty

JAKARTA (JP): The Jaksa Fair, the first ever street festival to feature the history of Jl. Jaksa and Betawi culture, lured thousands of visitors to Central Jakarta over the weekend.

The festival was closed yesterday with a performance by the Lenong Rumpi group which presented an episode entitled Pilih- pilih mantu (choosing son-in-law).

The presence of artists staring in Lenong Rumpi, a modernized Betawi Lenong which gained fame as a regular weekly aired on RCTI, gave a glamourous touch to the three day folk festival.

Most natives of Jakarta or Betawi people attending the festival, especially residents of Jl. Jaksa and Kebon Sirih area, Central Jakarta, relished in the presence of their favorite stars who they said raised the magnitude of traditional lenong into a modern drama.

Tarida Gloria, a comedian-cum-actress, who visited the festival and Lenong Rumpi artist Harry de Fretest were among the stars on the first and second night. But prominent business figures, such as Dewi Motik who attended the opening ceremony, were almost ignored by visitors, who were mostly Betawi people.

Minister of Tourism, Post and Telecommunications Joop Ave, dancer-cum-choreographer Sardono, students and backpackers were among the thousands of visitors who packed Jl. Jaksa on Friday evening.

"The Minister came here informally, not as the minister but as a Jakarta resident," said Renaldo Tomasouw, the treasurer of the organizing committee which consisted of officials of the City Tourism Office and Jl. Jaksa Tourism Industry Organizers.

Traffic on Jl. Kebon Sirih and other roads adjacent to the festival was smooth on the first day of the festival although Jl. Jaksa was totally closed.

The three day festival, opened by Jakarta Deputy Governor for Economic and Development affairs TB M. Rais on Friday evening, presented Betawi culture, such as gambang kromong music, sahibul hikayat traditional story-telling and ngarojeng dance, and various Betawi foods including the famous kerak telor, laksa, soto bebanci and sekoteng.

There were also stands selling postcards, traditional Kalimantan handicrafts, food, paintings, and other services, including a PT Indosat stand which offered international home country direct calls and domestic calls.

An information center was established by the organizing committee to enlighten visitors on Betawi culture and the events at the fair.

Harry de Fretes also made use the festival by opening a restaurant named Boim Cafe whose menu consisted of bizarre names like Sop buntut pujaan hati (Sweetheart cocktail soup), Es mambo banjir (Flood ice cream) and pisang goreng impian Barcelona (Barcelona dream fried banana).

Commenting on his turnover, Harry said that he had sold more than he had expected.


Nathanael Lawalata, the man who pioneered the development of budget accommodation on Jl. Jaksa, dressed in a Betawi traditional outfit, told the Post that he admired the spirit of youths who organized the fair.

"This is good because they are young and hard workers. And, I did not expect so many people to come," he said.

"This is really nice," said a Dutch tourist taking a photograph of a man dressed in a Betawi costume.

Ukke Kosasih, the program coordinator, recently said that they plan to make the fair an annual event.

"But, maybe next time, we will also highlight other cultures which have influenced Betawi culture, such as Chinese, Arab and Portuguese," she said.

The street festival was held to promote tourism in the area and also to revive the endangered Betawi culture.