XIV Edition of the fair

From 2nd to 6th Sept. 2016, "Etar" Museum hosted the XIV International Fair of Traditional Crafts held under the patronage of Mrs. Tsetska Tshacheva, President of the National Assembly of the Republic of Bulgaria.
During the five days of the festival, a record was set – the museum received 14,534 visitors, of them 661 foreigners. The festival also saw a record number of foreign participants in the exhibition of the Fair, as well as a record as per their diversity – 23 artisans from Ukraine, Belarus, Romania, Serbia, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Sudan, Russia and Syria presented to the event's visitors crafts typical of their respective countries. A record of a kind was set with regard to the international turnout for the Craftsman Competition.
The craft selected for the 2016 competition was Tablet Weaving of Belts. Together with the six Bulgarian female participants, the wager for the best tablet woven belts was joined by three foreign female artisans – a Dutchwoman, a Romanian and a Ukrainian. During the traditional Evening of the Craftsman the winner in the Craftsman Competition Mariyana Dimitrova Georgieva from the city of Plovdiv received the "Silver bell" Grand Prix, a diploma, a cash prize of BGN 600 (about EUR 300) and the right to arrange an exhibition of her own during the Fair in 2017. The Special Prize of the Municipality of Gabrovo worth BGN 500 (EUR 250) went to Sofka Petrova Dimitrova from the city of Sofia. The Special Prize of "Etar" Museum to the tune of BGN 400 (EUR 200) for promoting the development of the craft Tablet Weaving of Belts in our day was received by Anneliese Teinman from the Netherlands. The prize for "The youngest master" worth BGN 200 (EUR 100) and a diploma, went to Aurelia Casaru from Romania.
Simeonka Stoytcheva and Stoyna Krastanova, the Bulgarian artisans who turned weaving into their lifelong cause, presented exhibitions during the days of the Fair. Despite her 92 years, Simeonka Stoytcheva personally welcomed the guests who had come to the loggia of the Tannery to see her tablet woven belts. The exhibition "Resurrected weaving techniques" of Stoyna Krastanova was organized with the collaboration of "Stoyna Krastanova" Foundation in the hall of the Herbal Store at "Etar" Museum. It displayed a collection of original works in which old techniques have been used in a new way for creating Coptic, Byzantine and Bulgarian fabric ornamentation.
Exhibition "Weaving Techniques Resurrected", Stoyna Krastanova. Photo Gallery on Facebook.
The visitors of the Fair had the chance of marvelling at a different kind of sophistication and mastery at the Woodcarving bazaar exhibition including works of last year's edition of the Craftsman Competition.
Bazaar exhibition "Wood Carving". Photo Gallery on Facebook.
The 2016 Fair exhibition laid the emphasis on rare textile techniques. In a specially arranged space, 14 women from different parts of Bulgaria demonstrated their skills in knitting traditional socks, spinning and combing on a carder, clothing decoration with braids, making belts from beads, dyeing of Rhodope slippers, Kalofer lace, traditional felt, Kapan posy amulets, knitting bag ties, straw mat knitting, lace frivolite etc. The tradition to give a central theme to every edition of the Fair dates back to 2015 and the growing interest of visitors in this specialized exhibition is a good reason to expand and enrich this initiative.
Rare Textile Techniques – presentation and bazaar. Photo Gallery on Facebook.
On the 2016 Fair's agenda was the XII International research conference "Traditional crafts – past, present, future". The leading moderator of the conference was assoc. prof. Krasimira Krastanova, PhD, Dean of the Faculty of History and Philosophy at "Paisii Hilendarski" University of Plovdiv. The work of specialists was organized in two sections with one of them focused on textile crafts. For the first time a right-of-participation fee was introduced for foreign participants.
International exhibition bazaar of traditional crafts. Photo Gallery on Facebook.
The most attractive part of the diverse folklore program was the show of the "National art" dance company led by Neshka Robeva. For the first time the program featured children from "Filip Kutev" National school of folk arts in the town of Kotel, as well as the musicians from "Drums and bagpipes" band. Of course, like every year, many community centres and performers from the region of Gabrovo were given the chance to perform at the Fair. Apart from appearing on stage, colourful groups clad in authentic folk costumes were present on the area of the entire open-air museum. Re-enactments of folk rituals and demonstrations of forgotten home occupations, children-taregted workshops for making traditional items to serve rituals and celebrations added to the range of attractions that the team of the museum offered to visitors.
"National Art" with artistic director Neshka Robeva took part at the opening of the Fair. Photo Gallery on Facebook.
The XIV International Fair of Traditional Crafts received the total of 125 artisans:
66 exhibitors from Bulgaria
21 exhibitors from abroad
2 representatives from the quota of foreigners living in Bulgaria
9 artisans-participants in the Craftsman Competition
14 participants in the Exhibition for rare textile techniques
6 artisans showing their works at the Woodcarving bazaar-exhibition
5 demonstration masters
2 female artisans presenting one-woman exhibitions as part of the Fair
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