酒田まつり (Sakata Festival) is one of the biggest festivals in Yamagata. The festival began in 1609 and it has never skipped since then. The festival included parades of portable shrines and floats. The three-day long festival has several food stalls in downtown Sakata and in the city park, Hiyoriyama. I managed to come on the second day where they had the parade. It was a hot and sunny day, but there were large crowds of people lining up the streets. I live in a relatively “small” town, so I was shocked to see so many people in the festival. There was a long street that was lined up with several food stalls. I was told about 350 stalls showed up for the festival. This particular street happens to lead to the city park.
My friends and I enjoyed watching the parade. There were some interesting floats. There were people carrying shrines, dancers, musicians, and a few were pouring sake to the spectators. I think the best part was when two elementary schools were talking to my friend and me. The girls knew that we spoke English. So, they tried their best to speak English to us. I thought it was adorable when they asked for a photo with them.
The parade began at 1 and took a break after an hour. Then, the parade started again at 3. My friends and I walked around the food stalls during the break. It was really hot, so we tried to find some shade before the sun burned us. The second wave of parades was pretty cool to see. You constantly hear drums, flutes, and people singing or yelling.
As the sun was setting, we headed to the city park to relax. The park was filled with food stalls and people. It was a nice way to end a long day.