The Yipao is a unique annual tradition in Colombia’s Coffee Triangle dedicated to the Willys Jeeps, the iconic American car the locals have been relying on since the 1940s.
For the people of Quindío district, Jeeps have been a source of livelihood and a significant part of daily life since the 1940s. The unpaved roads of the coffee mountains are filled with Jeeps that transport people and their belongings – including piles of coffee bags, livestock, harvested produce, and more. When families have to relocate, they often pile all their belongings onto one Jeep and move in a single trip.
Jeeps are such an integral part of life that they’re fondly known in Spanish as ‘mulitas mécanicas (mechanical mules).
The country’s farmers use them to get to places that were previously accessible only by riding pack animals. Given how deeply Jeeps have impacted the life of locals, it’s only befitting that they pay homage to the vehicle during the annual Yipao parade.Every year, in June, locals get together to show off their Jeep-piling skills. Hundreds of Jeeps from all over the region are loaded with all kinds of things that bear some kind of importance to the locals, from household items, to agricultural products or livestock, and there’s even a contest to see who can stuff the most into their vehicles.
Contests are divided into four categories – agricultural products (coffee, corn, bananas, and other harvest), house moving (household furniture), free category (Jeeps are decorated with ornaments, icons and flashy accessories in a kitsch style), and the Pique contest (piling nearly 2,000 kg of stuff on the rear of the Jeep so that the vehicle drives only on its rear wheels). The objective of the pique category is to drive for as long as possible on the rear wheels. Pique is the favorite event of local Jeep “cowboys” who like to hang off the front of the vehicle as it’s being driven, to get the crowd cheering.