The Yilan International Children’s Folklore and Folkgame Festival is well known for promoting traditional folk toys and games, but this year the organizers have decided to showcase robots and to give visitors a new and fresh experience.
“In the past, the festival has focused on exhibiting traditional folk toys, but this year we will show Mobile Suit Gundam robots from Japan,” said Chang Li-yuan (張力元), cultural development division chief of the Yilan County Cultural Affairs Bureau, which organizes the event.
The giant robots are from the classic Japanese animation Mobile Suit Gundam, which first appeared in 1979 as a television series.
Visitors to the festival can see a 3D version of the animation, a display of classic war scenes from the show and how the animated figures and robot models have developed over the years, as well as take part in interactive games, Chang said.
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 smartphones will be able to see an 18m tall Gundam robot in front of the exhibition hall using their phones and take their picture with it, Chang said.
When phones that have the app are pointed at the hall, the robot appears because sensors installed outside the building activate the app, otherwise, the robot remains invisible, he said.
The Institute for Information Industry developed the app especially for the festival, he added.
“A folk toy should be anything that we can play with that turns us into children again, so we no longer limit that to traditional folk toys like Chinese shuttlecock, -spinning tops or diabolo,” Chang said, -adding that the organizers decided on an exhibition on robots because “that is what children today are in to.”
In addition to robots, 50 life-size dinosaurs made out of balloons and fiberglass are also on loan to the festival.
The dinosaurs were created by the Paper Windmill Theatre Troupe and exhibited around the country to encourage children to learn more about these prehistoric creatures.
We hope that everyone has fun at the festival regardless of social status,” Chang said, adding that he hoped the festival would be a place both parents and children can enjoy.
The annual festival, which promotes folk art and activities from Taiwan and around the world, will also feature performances from overseas folk artists, including troupes from Indonesia, Russia, Venezuela and Kenya.
The festival was certified by the International Council of Organizations of Folklore Festivals and Folk Arts under UNESCO in 2010 and was designated one of the nation’s top 12 festivals by the Tourism Bureau.