Graovo fair revives local traditions, culture and spirit

Photo: Project: @bulgarianroots

Residents of Graovo folklore region organize for the second consecutive year a fair near the Giginski Monastery dedicated to the local traditions, faith, folklore, crafts, talent and spirit. He three day Tsurnogorski Fair will be held between July 12 and 14. Many guests from all parts of Bulgaria are expected to attend the event.

Last year nearly 30,000 people attended the first folklore fair near the Giginski Monastery St. St. Cosmas and Damyan and many are getting ready to travel to Graovo again this year, because in their words, patriotism has no price.

Nearly 900 participants will attend the fair during the three days, the Chief Expert at the Culture Department of Pernik Municipality Ivanka Vasileva told Radio Bulgaria. Several big ensembles Rodopa Folklore Ensemble, Folklore Ensemble Trakia, Berkovitsa Brass Band as well as folk singers Ivan Dyakov and Rumiana Popova will be our guests. The popular voices from Graovo folklore region Sorina Bogomilova, Valeria Momchilova, Boryana Vasileva, Dimitar Lukarski, Anna-Maria, Lilyana Galevska, Sofia Ilieva, Eva Valentinova and Iva Valentinova, Antonio Simeonov and Georgi Gyolski will sing at the outdoor stage.

The Giginski Monastery which hosts the fair will offer the guests its own programme. The fair will be opened with a prayer for health and prosperity. A holy water ritual will also be served at the monastery.

The so called colloquium will be held in the monastery as well, Ivanka Vasileva went on to say. Last summer it was dedicated to the pilgrimage tourism and this year it will be themed “The Food of Future”. On this occasion Father Epiphanios, the best cook in the kitchen of Mount Athos, who published a culinary book, will join us and hold a culinary lesson. In the course of three days he will demonstrate his cooking skills in the Giginski Monastery.

Visitors will have the opportunity to taste the meals of Father Epiphanios of Mount Athos and buy organic products produced in various monasteries. The guests of the fair can taste the popular Graovo cheese and leek pastries. The traditional crafts will be presented at the artisan alley where Svetoslav Zhelyazkov will spin the potter wheel. The Museum in the village of Busintsi will show ceramic items from its rich collection. There are also other surprises such as a small scale model of an old Bulgarian village, exhibition of different breeds of farm animals, demonstration of the traditional Bulgarian martial art Koresh, etc.

The Graovo customs won a series of gold medals at the National Folklore Fair in Koprivshtitsa, Ivanka Vasileva further says. The community center in the village of Vladimir and an eighty three-year-old lady will perform the “Best Man” ritual with a rooster, a cart and gifts. The custom “Taking a Young Lass to the Water Well” reenacted by the community center of the village of Yardzhilovtsi is also very interesting. The wedding ritual “Gift show” performed by a group from the village of Peshtera and a fashion show with old traditional Graovo costumes are also part of the programme.

The youngest participant at the feast- an eight month baby and her mother will present traditional 19th century costumes at the retro costumes fashion show. The women’s garments consist of a white embroidered shirt and dark blue or black woolen pinafore called Litak. The men’s garments include embroidered shirt, braided tunic, full bottomed breeches and a red waist band. Costumes from all ethnographic regions in Bulgaria which are part of Yana Lenova’s collection will be shown at the fair as well.

English version: Kostadin Atanasov

Photos: courtesy of Bulgarian Roots Project

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