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Kemang Festival hits
the streets

The fifth Kemang Festival kicked off Saturday with more than 1,000 visitors swarming Jl. Kemang Raya in South Jakarta.

The two-day festival runs from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and features more than 300 booths displaying clothes, antiques, accessories, food and beverages. Also on offer are musical performances, drum bands, street magic and firework shows.

Andina Sabri, the event coordinator, said she was grateful that Kitapoenya Production, which began the event, managed to stage the festival despite criticisms by some Kemang residents.

"We find it harder to hold the festival each year because we always face objections from residents. They don't like the noise and the traffic jams," she told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.

She said the festival almost didn't happen, but a series of meetings with representatives of the residents to assure them the community would benefit from the annual event finally facilitated proceedings.

"We assured them they would be able to showcase their products because we provided them with free booths," she said.

She said the organizers also provided a special stage dedicated to traditional Betawi performances, including tanjidor (traditional music), ondel ondel (giant effigies) and traditional dances.

She said the festival, usually held in July, was moved to December because of the presidential election.

First time visitors Antonio and his friend Dicky, who live in Mampang, South Jakarta, said they accidentally stumbled upon the festival while driving around to find a hang out for the weekend.

"I highly recommend people spend time here this weekend. I find the food bazaar the most appealing because we can try various dishes," Antonio said while lining up to buy gudeg (a traditional dish from Yogyakarta).

Dicky said the festival had a distinctly Betawi air as they could find a number of vendors selling kerak telor (rice omelet).

"It feels like the PRJ," Antonio said, referring to the Jakarta Fair, held annually to mark the city's anniversary.

Traffic heading to Jl. Kemang Raya was heavily congested in the evening. Businesses located close to the festival allowed cars and motorcycles to park on their premises.

Sirojudin, a taxi driver, said he had been avoiding the street since the afternoon and chose an alternative route via Jl. Antasari.

"My previous passenger was a foreigner. He told me he lived in Kemang, but preferred to stay the night in a hotel to avoid the traffic because he was heading to the airport tomorrow," he said.

The festival area stretches from the McDonald's intersection to the Papillon Boutique t-junction.

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