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Fun-filled forest fest in full swing
By Fei Lai

SCENIC Chongming Island is attractive in all seasons, with its fields and farm houses, forests, wetlands, seaside and beaches.

Autumn is the time of the Chongming Forest Festival, which is in full swing through the end of October.

Activities and events include orchestra concerts, a food festival, cricket fighting and a bird festival, as well as orange picking and eating hairy crabs. There are also bicycling events.

The festival, one of the biggest events on the island, has been held since 1998; it's part of the Shanghai Tourism Festival.

Zhang Lixin, director of the Chongming County Tourism Bureau, says visitors are pouring into the environmentally friendly island that is connected with downtown Shanghai by the Changjiang Tunnel-Bridge.

Toll-free highways during the National Day holiday are expected to bring more visitors than last year.

"Chongming and its people are fully prepared to welcome visitors and showcase the island's art, grassroots culture, rural fun and sound environment," Zhang said.

This year the festival is launched with a drama about brave and persistent early settlers developed the island at the mouth of the Yangtze River.

Food is one of the biggest attractions of the forest festival and includes all manner of seafood, fresh produce and fruit, such as the island's famous oranges.

Chongming white distilled spirit (laobaijiu) is fermented from glutinous rice. Visitors can pick fruits and vegetables and enjoy picnics and barbecues.

An orange festival features a painting and calligraphy contest titled "Beautiful Orange Town" and a photography contest.

This is the first year that the festival features a bicycle race.

In the Dongtan Wetlands, visitors can go for a stroll or jog and even do yoga. Wooden walkways take visitors into the marshes and reeds where they can see various migrating birds and other water birds.

There's a bonfire music festival where open-air movies are screened.

"A high level of participation and plenty of folk culture is making the tourism festival a name card of Chongming," said tourism director Zhang.

Compared with other Shanghai districts, Chongming has purer water and cleaner air and is considered a natural "oxygen bar."

Around 20 percent of the island is covered by forest, making it a pleasant destination for agricultural tours, forest visits and wetland sightseeing.

Suggested destinations

Changjiang Dairy Cattle Science Museum

The museum in Changjiang Modern Park has an exhibition area on the first floor and interactive area on the second floor where visitors can learn how to make yogurt and how dairy is processed and manufactured. Exhibitions cover the origins of dairy cattle, development of the modern industry, breeding technology and famous farms on the island.

Yingdong Ecological Village

The village on the island's scenic, forested east coast is the first place on the island to witness the sunrise. The village is known for providing an eco-travel experience. Visitors can walk on waterwheels to generate energy, and watch demonstrations of traditional spinning and weaving. They can get a taste of farm life by pushing a wheelbarrow, fishing, watching cock fights, catching fish and crabs. They can try walking and stilts and carrying a friend in a sedan chair.

Zhongxin Agriculture Taisheng Demonstration Farm

The 33-hectare farm in Zhongxing Town stresses sustainable agriculture. Visitors can feed animals, grow and pick vegetables, go fishing, try their hand at country cooking and in general enjoy the fun of rural life.

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