Traditional pig roast Festival in Talca

1. Context

The city of Talca, which in Mapuche means "the sound of thunder", was founded in 1741. Historically, it was the last frontier between Spanish imperialists and the Mapuche population. The most recent 2013 census noted the city's population to be at 253,742. Talca is the capital of the Maule region. Geographically it is located in the Chilean Central Valley, between the Andes and Chilean Coastal Range, just three hours outside of the nation's capital. Talca is constantly being reconstructed as it suffers earthquakes approximately every 25 years. In 1928, about 75% of the city was destroyed this way.

The Traditional Pig Roast Festival is a way to preserve countryside traditions from the Chilean Central Valley. It helps to emphasise the value of rural communities by maintaining their cultural practices in a globalised world. Furthermore, it also uses the processes and means of preserving food used in the pig roast. One of these traditions is the killing of the pig, which brings together family and community to perform this task. Traditionally, this was a way of ensuring food for the winter and having pork products throughout the rest of the year for survival. Additionally, the festival also draws special attention to craftsmanship that is representative of the region, thereby lending it visibility, wider appreciation, fair trade, and contributing to its lasting preservation.

The overall objective of the project is to preserve the region's countryside traditions and to emphasise the value of rural communities in a globalised world.

2. Talca and Culture

Along with the Municipal Council of Culture, the local government has developed a Community Plan for culture which includes culture as a fourth pillar of sustainable development. The Community Plan is the result of a democratic process in developing cultural public policies. The Traditional Pig Roast Festival is part of the main strategic initiative for establishing "access to cultural goods and acts" as part of a course of action aimed at "improving access and expanding cultural activities" through the 2016 Community Plan.

The Festival conforms to Agenda 21 for culture and falls within the scope of the commitment to Heritage, Diversity, and Creativity. This event also promotes actions in which "local productions maintain a significant and balanced presence in the city's range of activities" as well as "policies and programmes related to the protection of tangible and intangible cultural heritage in all areas."

3. Objectives and Project Implementation

3.1. Primary Objective

One general goal is to emphasise the value of gastronomic cultural heritage, in addition to all related products. This helps to strengthen efforts to protect the country's gastronomic heritage by rejuvenating the Maule region's rural traditions. Specific Objectives:

  • To make this the country's largest free festival.
  • To provide the community a wide range gastronomic selection with dishes that are unique to the participating regions.
  • To offer the community extensive gastronomic and artistic choices which include distinct cultural activities.
  • To foster exchange between exhibitors and visitors.
  • To provide a quality experience for the 100,000 daily attendees.
  • To comply with health and food safety standards.

The festival also draws special attention to craftsmanship that is representative of the region, thereby lending it visibility, wider appreciation, fair trade, and contributing to its lasting preservation.

3.2. Development of the Project

The programme involved collaboration among a number of groups, including the Municipality of Talca, the Municipal Education Services Department (DAEM), the investments and credit bank, the Hotel Casino, Kunstmann breweries, and the National Tourism Service (SERNATUR). The government's involvement through SERNATUR helped to develop the strategic plans to strengthen tourism in the city and region. Furthermore, efforts are being taken to implement ongoing coordination with the National Arts and Culture Council to address issues related to tangible and intangible heritage. The programme saw 400,000 attendees participate over the two days of the festival.

4. Impacts

4.1. Direct Impacts

Impact on the Local Government

The local government has successfully:

  • Enhanced capacity building within different professional fields.
  • Worked in coordination with different departments.
  • Defined clear objectives and roles to efficiently carry out the festival.
  • Received high levels of professional commitment from its teams.
  • Proven its high capacity to react to unforeseen issues in organising the event.
  • Shown its high capability for organising, and encouraging attendance at, large-scale events.
  • Created a positive, organised environment for job satisfaction.
  • Established a sense of belonging for the festival's organisers.
  • Secured community funding to hold the event.
  • Impact on Culture and on Local Cultural Actors
  • Established means to distribute works of craftsmanship at large events.
  • Acquired expertise in opportunity management.
  • Developed new learning based on cultural exchanges with cultural actors from other regions.
  • Ongoing improvement in product presentation.
  • Visualised spaces that increase access to artistic and musical works.
  • Advance planning for participation and a subsequent focus on optimal results.
  • Impacts on the Territory and Population
  • Increases in the local economy before, during, and after the Traditional Pig Roast Festival.
  • Increased activity in the hotel sector given the size of the event.
  • Improved public spaces.
  • A sense of pride in the city's events felt by Talca's citizens.
  • Nationwide visibility for the city of Talca.

4.2. Cross-cutting Impacts

Economic sphere:

  • Improved local economic indicators.
  • Increased product sales for small- and medium-sized businesses.
  • Support for new endeavours in the area of gastronomy.

Social sphere:

  • Recognition and validation for rural cultural practices.
  • Intergenerational transfer of knowledge.
  • Social cohesion.
  • Sense of belonging.

Environmental sphere:

  • Maintaining and improving plans for waste management and disposal.
  • Talca is the country's second best city for efficient recycling.
  • High capacity cleaning equipment that is environmentally-friendly.

The festival has contributed to the intergenerational transfer of knowledge, social cohesion, and a sense of belonging.

4.3. Evaluation

Every year, teams evaluate different aspects of the festival, analysing its strengths, areas for improvement, critical weaknesses that need to be reduced or eliminated, as well issues that may arise out of external factors.

4.4. Continuity

Through a strategic initiative geared towards strengthening community participation, the Community Plan is implemented. Citizens identify with the Traditional Pig Roast Festival, establishing it as an iconic cultural winter event. This helps to maintain the independent success of the festival.

5. Further Information

The City of Talca was a candidate for the second "UCLG Mexico City – Culture 21 International Award" (January – May of 2016). The jury for the award drew up its final report in June of 2016, and requested that the Committee on Culture promote this project as one of the good practices to be implemented through Agenda 21 for culture.

This article was written by Rafael Muñoz Canessa, Executive Secretary, Municipal Council of Culture, Talca, Chile.

Contact: rmunozcanessa (at)

Reference website:

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Traditional pig roast Festival in Talca