The ‘Farmer Singing Contest’ held annually in Can Tho City, is considered the biggest art contest for farmers in the Mekong Delta.
Contest attracts all age groups
|Contestants performing at the singing contest( Photo:SGGP)|
73-year-old farmer Nguyen Huu Duc of Thoi Lai District in Can Tho City said he first became acquainted with Vietnamese traditional musical songs when he was a young boy of 14 while taking part in local parties in his hamlet.
Despite forgetting much over the years, Duc was confident of reaching the final round of the contest. Listening to his song ‘Mot Thoang Bang Khuang’ (written by Hoai Van), the audience gave positive comments on his strong and soulful voice.
In response, he attributed his skills to his own experiences with friends and relatives during war time.
Results of the second prize winner were not unexpected either which went to the song titled ‘Oldest in the Contest’.
Contestants came from different parts of the Mekong Delta region. 60-year-old shrimp farmer Duong Van Cung came from Ca Mau Province in the southern tip of Vietnam, dragon fruit orchard owner Le Kim Hoang came from Cho Gao District in the southern province of Tien Giang and farmer Tran Thi Bay from Thanh Phu District in the southern province of Ben Tre.
Among the contestants were 434 members of the Vietnam Farmers’ Union from the Dong Thap Muoi area at the heart of the Mekong Delta and the Long Xuyen Quadrangle area as well as other provinces like Tra Vinh, Soc Trang, Bac Lieu, Tien Giang and Vinh Long.
Though the age limit for the contest was 75 years, there were many farmers’ presents who had crossed the limit and others who had already taken part in the contest at least six times by now. Contestants felt quite nervous in front of such a big crowd that they could only begin after a very long pause and much encouragement from the audience.
Even participants who only knew a few lines of a song sang their best in front of the judges and waved to the crowd jovially.
As the contest progressed the contestants felt more enthused along with their supporters who had come in from their hometowns with colorful banners and slogans. “The contest is an opportunity for farmers from different regions to interact with one another and enjoy themselves after hours of strenuous work,” said 37-year-old participant Le Thi Buoc from Rach Goc District of Ca Mau Province.
Passionate Dream for a Better Life
Traditionally the end of the harvest season is also the beginning of the ‘Farmer Singing Contest’. Over time, the quality of the contest has improved, introducing new faces to the local cultural program.
All contestants in the final round are required to meet with criteria such as a strong singing voice, correct singing techniques (meaning a good understanding of Vietnamese traditional musical songs) and good breath control.
From the time of the first contest in 2004, jointly organized by Vietnam Farmers’ Union, Can Tho Radio and Television, the Can Tho Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, in which only local applicants of Can Tho and surrounding areas had taken part, the contest now has hundreds of participants from 12 provinces and cities.
“The contest has become an attractive and popular singing playground for all farmers,” commented writer Nham Hung, who has been following the contest since the very beginning.
A look at the choice of songs (‘Chuyen Lang Be’ by Nguyen Thi Nang, ‘Khom Ngot’ by Ngo Hong Khanh, ‘Gao Nang Thom Cho Dao’ by Trong Nguyen, ‘Tam Tinh Anh Hai Lua’ by Nguyen Van Den, ‘Ong Lao Cheo Do’ by Vien Chau) as well as interviews of participants shows the great expectation of participants and their enthusiasm.
A special feature of this year’s contest is that the final round was held not on an indoor stage but in the outdoors among fields and gardens in Thoi Lai District, which farmers were able to enjoy much more.
This singing contest also marks the 81st anniversary of the Vietnam Farmers’ Union (October 14).
Tran Ngoc Nga, Deputy Director of the Can Tho Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism said that Tran Thanh Man, Party Secretary of Can Tho City had paid full attention to the contest, as he believed that it contributed a great deal to uplifting the spirits of the farmers and putting Resolution No.26 of the Party on agriculture and farming life into practice.
It is the passion of all contestants that makes this contest such a success while keeping alive the age old culture of well-known traditional musical songs in Vietnam.