The Teuila Festival is a feast of fun, writes Tracey Bond.

If you want to know what makes Samoa tick then head along to any of the events at the annual Teuila Festival.

Samoan culture or Fa'a Samoa is celebrated in the week-long event which features traditional dance, singing, fashion and variety shows and traditional fun and games.

Held in front of the government building, the event attracts contestants and their supporters from across Samoa, curious tourists and families looking for fun, snacks and entertainment.

A two-hour tour runs several times a week. Photo / Supplied
A two-hour tour runs several times a week. Photo / Supplied

Local villages and youth groups wearing colourful, matching lava-lava go head-to-head in competitions throughout the week, from sack race relays to the hotly contested traditional siva dance heats.

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To get a good feel for the festival, head along to the traditional lunchtime show which takes place every day at about midday.

Scheduled shows and events run from the early morning police flag raising through to the evening. The Samoa Tourism Authority Information Centre and local hotels will have detailed timetables of what's on.

Marquees with folding chairs are set up in front of the stage to provide shade from the baking Samoan sun and local vendors line the road selling snacks, refreshing young coconuts (niu) and barbecue.

Take the opportunity to sample some of the local dishes on offer at prices that won't break the bank. There are also local handicrafts, souvenirs and clothes for sale at the market in front of the government buildings.

It seemed most of Apia turned out late one evening to watch the uplifting Teuila Festival Church Choir Exhibition. Singing is a massive part of Samoan culture and this event featured the best of the best from different churches across Samoa.

Like everywhere else on Samoa, people are friendly, welcoming and proud to have the opportunity to show off their local culture.

On another night it was the turn of the Island's best fashion designers with everything from casual, bright lava-lava to formal puletasi modelled on the catwalk.

Local villages and youth groups wearing colourful, matching lava-lava go head-to-head in competitions throughout the week. Photo / Supplied
Local villages and youth groups wearing colourful, matching lava-lava go head-to-head in competitions throughout the week. Photo / Supplied

The show featured Miss Samoa contestants but the night belonged to the local lads who hammed it up for the crowd, trying to outdo each other with their poses.

If you're not in town when Teuila is on, then take a trip to the Samoa Cultural Village in Apia which is next to the Samoa Tourism Information Centre and where you can try your hand at some coconut palm weaving and learn about Tapa cloth printing, wood carving and weaving.

A two-hour tour runs several times a week (times and days change throughout the year so check with the Samoa Tourism Authority), and is an introduction to the Samoan way of life.

Guests are welcomed with an ava ceremony followed by an explanation of how traditional food is prepared and cooked in an umu or earth oven and a demonstration of traditional Samoan dance.