On Sunday morning, July 24th, 2011, the city of Jember, the third largest town in East Java, grew very lively, packed with more than 500 photographers from around the country and overseas. For this day, the city’s central park, known as the Alun-alun Jember, was made into an open-air catwalk. Around 600 models wearing out-of-this-world costumes walked gracefully down the 3.6 kilometer street, now used as a fashion runway for thousands of spectators. This was the peak of the Jember Fashion Carnaval 2011.
Organized aimed to support the development of Education, Exhibition, Entertainment and Economic Benefit to the city, the Jember Fashion Carnaval is an event that was initiated and almost completely contributed by the city’s entire community.
Normally a sleepy town during school holidays when most of the students usually escape the town, this time around students stayed to watch the city’s yearly mega event. Many chose even to actively participate. Additionally, hundreds more students from the larger city of Surabaya, came to join the 10th annual carnival, acting as fashion models for the cameras.
The models were extraordinary. With ten different costume themes, they passed the clustered photographers around several parts of the catwalk. Carrying the theme “Roots”, tens of models wore costumes with natural components resembling trees and nature. Another outstanding theme was “Bali”, which highlighted the elements of Balinese culture including the amazing Garuda Wisnu Kencana, and Balinese warrior dance costumes. Ahead of the parading models was a group of bizarre looking guys wearing modern punk rock costumes.
Months earlier, photographers from all over the country and overseas were invited to register for a grand photo hunt, possibly one of the largest in Indonesia. The committee, supported by the local government, had opened an online registration months earlier. Consequently, some 30 or more hotels in Jember and around were fully booked since early June 2011, two months prior to the Carnaval.
Walk-in guests to Jember’s hotels had to find alternative accommodation as none were vacant. Many visitors found themselves stranded somewhere out in the closest town, or chose to stay at the homes of local residents. For a relatively small city like Jember, the Carnaval was a super successful event that attracted thousands to watch and to enjoy the festivities. Other prominent cities in the country should imitate the organization of this event. .
Jember is the town where trekkers and hikers stay before heading to the Ijen crater and the Meru Betiri National Park., the two better known tourist destinations in East Java. Among attractions near Jember are the Bukit Bedadung, Tancak Waterfall, Mt. Gambir Tea Plantation, Watu Ulo, Papuma, and Bandealit Beach at Java’s southern coast.
At the close of the event, Jember railway station was packed with passengers returning to Surabaya, Yogyakarta, Purwokerto, Probolinggo, and Banyuwangi, or even to as far away as Halmahera in the Moluccas, Bima in West Nusatenggara, Pontianak in West Borneo, Medan and Padang in Sumatra, and Denpasar in Bali to Jakarta at the western part of the island of Java.
With such exposure by newsmakers, media and amateur photographers alike, and with the advance and convenience of the internet technology, the next Jember Fashion Carnival promises to be another resounding success, bringing more visitors who will also stay longer in the area.
For next year’s event of the Jember Fashion Festival, please visit http://www.jemberfashioncarnaval.com/
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