Legacy of fun goes on

Visitors looking green iguana display for Penang Hobby Expo

PESTa Pulau Pinang is back with a bang after a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

No expense has been spared with RM2.6mil spent to ensure the carnival has something for everyone.

Pesta Pulau Pinang masterplan committee senior manager Refnaldy Azuardi said the lighting was upgraded and he was happy everything had been completed in time for the opening on Nov 26.

The carnival ends on Dec 31.

“We have some 150 stalls selling items ranging from handbags and mattresses to food, and this year’s event will be bigger and more exciting than before.

“We are off to a good start, recording a 25,000-strong crowd on the opening weekend. We are expecting even larger crowds during the upcoming three-week school holidays,” said Refnaldy at the carnival site in Sungai Nibong,

More than 500,000 people visited the last Pesta Pulau Pinang in 2019. This time around, the committee is estimating at least 600,000 visitors.

“We have taken up radio slots to announce the carnival’s comeback as we want the whole country to visit the fair,” he added.

Visitors are advised to park their vehicles at the designated carpark that charges RM5, to avoid the illegal jaga kereta touts.

The highlight of this year’s carnival is Science@Pesta with USM (Universiti Sains Malaysia) at Dewan A where visitors can learn more about science.

“A planetarium has been set up for visitors to explore the wonders of the universe.

“Nightly observation of the sky will also be held, weather permitting, by the university’s Astrono-my Club and one may spot a meteor shower or even a comet if lucky,” he said.

Other interesting events include live concerts featuring local bands and singers, an auto show, a silat feskom and a Battle of the Bands competition.

Bands that will be performing include Black (Dec 9), Kumpulan Samudera (Dec 22), Bumiputra Rockers (Dec 23), XPDC Ali (Dec 24) and Exist (Dec 25).

“On Dec 29, Wings frontman and lead singer Datuk Awie will do his best to rock the house.

“We will have Indonesian Cultural Night on Dec 7 followed by Penang Cultural Night with boria and ghazal performances the next day at Pentas Arena Satu, and on Dec 21, 60s Night featuring Datuk Jeffrydin and S. Mariam will bring nostalgic vibes,” he said.

Scattered around the Pesta site are colourful LED structures which provide good photo opportunities, and educational booths set up by government agencies.More thrills can be found at Euro Fun Park featuring aptly-named rides such as Vortex, Euro Wheel, Sky Rider and Daytona. There is also the ever popular rollercoaster.

The carnival’s official launch on Dec 13 will be attended by Penang Yang di-Pertua Negri Tun Ahmad Fuzi Abdul Razak and Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow.

A visitor, who wanted to be known only as Lim, said she looked forward to Pesta Pulau Pinang every year as a child.

“My friends and I have many fond memories of this place.

“I’m glad that the carnival has returned after two years so that other visitors can experience the fun too,” she added.

Businessman Peter Wong, 57, said the carnival was practically a Penang institution.

“However, this year, I think the food and drinks are overpriced,” he said.

It was recently reported that food and beverage traders at Pesta Pulau Pinang were told to reduce their prices, following complaints from visitors.

Refnaldy said he had advised the traders to keep their prices in check.

“Prices of raw material have increased but they should not try to profiteer since the stall rental has remained the same at RM3,500 for 36 days.”

Netizens also complained about expensive game stall prices, saying a game token is now priced at RM5 compared with RM2 in 2019.

For trader Ahmad Hilman, 18, from Baling, Kedah, who is operating for the first time at the carnival, business has been good so far.

“I try to keep the prices of my drinks reasonable, which is why my customers keep coming back.

“Everyone is just trying to have a good time after staying home during the various movement control order,” he said.

Pesta Pulau Pinang is open from 5.30pm to 11.30pm daily but from Dec 10, it will open until midnight during the school holidays. Tickets are priced at RM5 for adults and RM1 for children aged six to 12.

The first carnival was held in 1970 at the Esplanade. It was the brainchild of former chief minister, the late Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu.

According to Penang Institute’s periodical Penang Monthly, Dr Lim wanted to boost the retail economy during a time of high unemployment.

The carnival was a huge success, leading the state committing to building the site in Sungai Nibong where the event has been held yearly since 1974 except during the pandemic.

For details, check out the Pesta Pulau Pinang Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/PestaPulauPinang.

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