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Ylan children’s folklore festival goes high tech

2012/06/23 17:12:50

Taipei, June 23 (CNA) The Yilan International Children’s Folklore and Folkgame Festival is known for promoting traditional folk toys and games, but this year organizers said they are showcasing robots and high technology to give visitors a new experience.

“In the past, the festival has focused on exhibiting traditional folk toys, but this year we are showing Mobile Suit Gundam robots from Japan,” Chang Li-yuan, cultural development division chief of the organizing Yilan County Cultural Affairs Bureau, told CNA.

The giant robots are from the classic Japanese anime Mobile Suit Gundam, which started in 1979 as a television series.

Visitors to the festival can see a 3-D cinema of the anime, a display of its classic war scenes and how the anime and robot models have developed over the years, as well as participate in interactive games, said Chang.

The festival will be held from July 7 to Aug. 19 at the Dongshan River Chinshuei Park.

Visitors who have downloaded a “Gundam Legacy” app on their smart phones can also see an 18-meter tall Gundam robot in front of the exhibition hall through their phones and take pictures with the robot, said Chang.

When the phone users open the app and point their phones at the hall, they can see the robot because of the sensors installed outside of the hall that will activate the app, he said. Otherwise, the robot will be hidden from sight.

He said Taiwan’s Institute for Information Industry has developed the app for the festival.

“A folk toy should be anything that we can play happily with, that turns us into children again, so we no longer limit that to traditional folk toys like Chinese shuttlecock, spinning tops or diabolo,” said Chang.

He said the choice of a robot exhibition is because "it's what children now are into."

In addition to robots, 50 life-size dinosaurs made out of balloons and glass fiber materials will also be on loan and showcased at the festival.

The dinosaurs were created by local theater troupe Paper Windmill Theatre and exhibited around Taiwan to encourage children to learn more about these creatures of the prehistoric world.

We hope that everyone can have fun at the festival and throw aside their social statuses,” said Chang, adding that he hopes the festival will be a place for parents and children to enjoy themselves.

The annual festival, which promotes folk art and activities originating from Taiwan, as well as from different parts of the world, will also feature performances from folk artists from other countries, including Indonesia, Russia, Venezuela and Kenya.

The festival was certified by the International Council of Organizations of Folklore Festivals and Folk Arts under the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization in 2010. It was also elected by Taiwan's Tourism Bureau as one of the 12 main festivals that represent Taiwan.

(By Christie Chen)