XVI Edition of the fair

From 6th to 9th Sept. 2018, "Etar" Museum hosted the XVI International Fair of Traditional Crafts held under the patronage of Mrs. Tsveta Karayancheva, President of the National Assembly of the Republic of Bulgaria.
Official guests of the Fair. Photo Gallery on Facebook.
During the four days of the fair more than 11,000 visited "Etar" Museum, of them close to 750 foreigners. The Bulgarian participants in the exhibition of traditional crafts were 54, and the guests from abroad – 30, from three continents (Azerbaijan, Germany, Iran, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Romania, Serbia, Ukraine, Hungary and South Africa).
The official guests were the first to join the initiative "Threads of history". It was the launch of marking the 55th anniversary of "Etar" Museum, which will be celebrated on 7 Sept. 2019. The guests wove the first centimetres of a wall panel on which visitors of the museum would be able to work throughout the year.
Mrs. Tanya Hristova, Mayor of Gabrovo Municipality, joins the initiative "Threads of History".
Crafts that were presented at the International bazaar exhibition of traditional crafts in 2018 were dominated by ones related to working with wood: woodturning, miniature woodcarving, woodcarving, chisel making. Potters from the region of Troyan were also presented well. Articles of weaving, knitting and felt making were also displayed at the bazaar. Visitors were offered various kinds of halva, rooster lollipops, candied fruits, walnut biscuits and the so called Gabrovian chocolate – damson cheese. The exhibitors not only sold artisan articles and showed their skills but let visitors try their own skills in rolling pots on the pottery wheel, weaving etc.
International bazaar exhibition of traditional crafts. Photo Gallery on Facebook.
In 2018, for the second time during the days of the Fair, there was dedicated space where contemporary artists offered their interpretation of traditional crafts. Thanks to the ArtZone the visitors could see the development and modern use of various ancient techniques of sewing, knitting, decoration etc. Apart from Bulgarian participants, foreign ones joined the event as well – from Germany and Ukraine, a total of 30 artists. Children and youths from the Day centre for children with specific needs took part in the exhibition with their handmade articles.
Art Zone, 2018. Photo Gallery on Facebook.
For the first time in the history of the Fair the Craftsman Competition focused on the craft of stone-cutting. Nine artisans including two women joined the race. Petar Petrov from the village of Belyakovets, Veliko Tarnovo region, was the winner of the "Silver bell" Grand Prix handed over to him by Dr. Aksiniya Bouteva from the Ministry of Culture. Petar Petrov also received a cash prize of BGN 600 (EUR 300) and the right to mount a bazaar exhibition at the museum in 2019.
Petar Petrov, winner in the Craftsmen's competition in stonemasonry. Photo Gallery on Facebook.
Elin Georgiev from the town of Aksakovo, Varna region, received the Special Prize of the Municipality of Gabrovo —a diploma and cash prize of BGN 500 (EUR 250) handed over to him by Mayor Tania Hristova. The Special Prize of "Etar" EOM —a diploma and a cash prize of BGN 400 (EUR 200), went to Valeriy Gantchev from the village of Kounino, the municipality of Roman. The prize "From master to master" provided by Andrey Stoyanov, a cutler master at "Etar" EOM, went to Roumen Barfontchovski from Vratsa. Ivan Ivanov from Plovdiv received the prize of the Icon-painting atelier at the museum.

The youth section of the Craftsman Competition held for the second time attracted students from the only school for stone-cutting in the Balkans, based in the village of Kounino. The youth section's mission is seen in boosting continuity, promoting old crafts and encouraging their role in present-day life. Ivan Simeonov, student in the 12th grade in the Stone-cutting school in Kounino, received the "Bronze bell" prize and a money grant. Besides, the school won the right to mount a bazaar exhibition at "Etar" in 2019.
Youth section at the Craftsmen's competition. Photo Gallery on Facebook.
The Craftsman Competition was one of the attractions during the days of the Fair. The outcomes were announced at the Evening of the Craftsman by the chairman of the jury, assoc. prof. Tsvetoslav Hristov, head of the "Sculpture" chair at the National Academy of Art. The works made during the competition (mandatory and free choice) were displayed at a dedicated exhibition which was on until end-Oct. 2018.
Exhibition – Craftsmen's competition in Stonemasonry. Photo Gallery on Facebook.
A few thematic exhibitions opened during the days of the Fair.

A bazaar exhibition of the 2017 winner in the Craftsman Competition in Icon painting Stela Vasileva. She had invited the other icon painters from the competition to join her – Mihail Beloev, Gergana Simeonova and Elena Digboyoushka.
Bazaar exhibition by Stela Vasileva – Icon painting. Photo Gallery on Facebook.
On 15 Aug., Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, "Trevnenska shkola" National school for applied art opened an exhibition with works by its students. The school received the right to arrange this exhibition after its student Alina Pentcheva had won the first place in the youth section of the Craftsman Competition in icon painting in 2017.
Bazaar exhibition by graduates of the National High School of Applied Arts "Trevnenska shkola". Photo Gallery on Facebook.
The Embassy of the Palestinian National Authority to Bulgaria presented an exhibition with the motto "Palestine, the Holy land". It featured attractive national costumes, unique articles from mother of pearl and various household items made of clay, wood and glass. Photographs displayed interesting historical sites, the ancient traditions and their present-day embodiment in Palestine.
Exhibition "Palestine – the Holy Land". Photo Gallery on Facebook.
The second foreign exhibition, "Art – bridging cultures", featured traditional crafts from Iran. The heritage of a millennia-old civilization which determines the historical and national identity of Iran was visualized in a range of images referring to the ancient past. The handicrafts, with deep roots, revealed the beauty of Iranian art. They attracted visitors with the sophistication of shapes, the demonstration of skills and the oriental flavours, and enabled guests to immerse in the fairy-tale world of Iranian culture.
"The Art – Bridge between Cultures" (traditional crafts from Iran). Photo Gallery on Facebook.
Children's, youth, amateur and professional groups took part in the diverse folklore program of the Fair. Its role is to find, preserve, encourage and promote samples of the intangible cultural heritage. The Fair opened with performances of "Tchinari" group. A tradition during Fair days is presenting performers from the schools of art. In 2018, students from the National school of music "Lubomir Pipkov" joined the program. For the first time on the Fair's stage, 9 dance and folklore clubs from the country showed their skills. The program also included renowned groups such as "Shevitsa" and "Sedentchitsa", "Gabrovo" Orchestra, the children's groups "Gabrovtche", "Balkandzhiitche", "Novomahlentche" and others.
Ensemble "Chinari" – part of the Folklore programme. Photo Gallery on Facebook.
Based on the work done to prepare the Fair and its results, its XVI edition can be assessed as successful. The considerable international presence and participation, the attractive Craftsman Competition, the interesting exhibitions and the diverse folklore program attracted an impressive number of visitors during the museum forum. The Fair has increasingly emerged as an established model of presentation and promotion of traditional crafts.
Team of "Etar" museum
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