During the festival guests are welcomed with free bowls of rice cake soup (떡꾹) because this is the traditional soup that Koreans always eat on new years. Upon arrival prior to the start of the performances, guests are given wish paper to write their wishes on and then place under the big bamboo display so that it burns in the fire.
The festival began about 6:30 with fun and lively performances by men and women in traditional Korean clothing drumming and dancing. Performers also commanded the stage with animated ribbon twirling and tricks with batons and a yoyo-like device. After the performances the mayor and other influential members came to make a short speech, take pictures, cut a giant rice cake, pass out bags of nuts, and commence the fire burning ceremony.
As is tradition, the Korean people crack the nuts with their teeth. The sound of the cracking nuts is said to ward do demons and other bad things from haunting the people. Then shortly after this they burned the giant pyramidal display of bamboo sticks as well as the fire sign reading “3.1운동100주년” meaning 100 years of the March 1st Korean Independence Movement. The fire was enormous and absolutely mesmerizing and even a bit therapeutic to watch.
After the fire burns for a while all the people at the event come together to take part in ganggangsullae (강강술래). This is a traditional Korean dance where all the people hold hands in a line and makes waves similar to the congo line.
At the end of the event they cut-up and give out giant squares of red bean covered rice cake. There is no historical symbolism with this choice of food, but just purely for guests to enjoy.