XVII Edition of the fair

From 6 to 8 Sept. 2019, under the patronage of the President of the National Assembly of the Republic of Bulgaria Mrs. Tsveta Karayancheva, the 17th International Fair of Traditional Crafts took place at Etar Museum.
Opening of the 17th International Fair of Traditional Crafts. Official guests. Gallery on Facebook.
The 17th International Fair of Traditional Crafts was a get-together of traditions from three continents! It attracted 87 exhibitors – artisans, artists, producers of wine and various delicacies. In the bazaar exhibition, 37 Bulgarian artisans from more than 25 cities, towns and villages presented more than 30 crafts and home occupations. Nine contemporary artists were invited to the ArtZone location to offer their original interpretation of traditional crafts. For the first time the fair showed crafts and home occupations under risk in which the continuity of tradition is endangered. Foreign participants included 21 masters from Estonia, Kosovo, Lithuania, Russia, Romania, Serbia, Ukraine, Hungary and the Republic of South Africa; 2 masters from Russia and India based in Bulgaria; and three artists representing the cities of Florianopolis (Brzil), Aswan (Egypt) and Weifang (China) members of the Creative Cities Network of UNESCO whose full member since 2017 in the section of Crafts and Folk Art has been the city of Gabrovo.
For the first time in the Fair's history an Alley of Tastes was organized with tastings and a bazaar joined by 15 wineries and producers of various delicacies. The initiative was carried out in partnership with the Augustiada Festival of Wine and Cultural Heritage and with the motto "Wine – both craft and magic".
In 2019, Augustiada Festival of Wine and Cultural Heritage had a guest-presentation at Etar Museum under the motto "Wine – both craft and magic". Gallery on Facebook.
The 17th International Fair of Traditional Crafts had a record number of visitors – 15,233 registered on the grounds of Etar Museum during the three days of the Fair. The previous record was set in 2016 when the event went on for four days and had 14,534 visitors.
Seven artisans from France, Romania (2), Hungary, the Republic of South Africa and Bulgaria (2) joined the Craftsman Competition. Each of them had to make a precise replica of a pitcher from the first half of the 20th century plus an article featuring the traditions in the art of pottery in his or her country or to show an original creative interpretation of work with clay. A jug made with the coil pot technique was the mandatory article for the participants in the youth section held for a third year running as part of the Craftsman Competition. Three students from the Ceramics class of Professor Venko Kolev National School for Applied Arts in the town of Troyan joined the pottery contest for the young. The skills of the participants in the two sections of the race were assessed by a three-member jury chaired by Prof. Bozhidar Bonchev, PhD.
Showing the mandatory object which the participants in the Craftsman Competition in Pottery should make under the rules of the competition. Gallery on Facebook.
The Silver Bell Grand Prix, an honorary diploma, a cash bonus (BGN 600) and the right to mount a bazaar exhibition during the following edition of the fair went to Desislava Vladovska. The Special Prize of the Municipality of Gabrovo – a diploma and a cash bonus (BGN 500), went to Alice Bango (Hungary). The Special Prize of Etar Museum – a diploma and a cash bonus (BGN 400), went to Jean-Claude Signore (France); the Prize From Master to Master – a diploma and a cash bonus (BGN 200), went to Joseph Caba (Romania). An object prize (an icon) went to Tefo Magabone (Republic of South Africa). The Bronze Bell Prize and a one-off grant (BGN 200) went to high-school student Kosara-Monic Penkova.
The year 2019 marked 55 years since the opening of Etar Museum. The 17th International Fair of Traditional Crafts was dedicated to that anniversary. Therefore invitations for the Bazaar exhibition were sent out only to renowned artisans whose work makes them distinct and assigns them an important role in the mission for the preservation of the tangible and intangible cultural heritage worldwide. Apart from presenting their artworks in an attractive way, they demonstrated to visitors the actual creative process as well.
International Bazaar Exhibition of Traditional Crafts Gallery on Facebook.
In the course of 55 years, close to 14 million viewers have visited Etar Museum; tens of artisans and hundreds of employees have worked at it. A strong thread, though invisible for the eye, connecting the museum with everybody who has been in touch with it, has many names – love, admiration, pride, patriotism, Bulgarian identity and spirit. During the opening of the 16th International Fair of Traditional Crafts the initiative Threads in History was launched on the occasion of Etar Museum's 55th anniversary. It was a challenge to all – visitors, guests, former and present employees of the museum, masters in the Craftsman Street, Bulgarians and foreigners. All of them were challenged to weave a textile panel for a period of one year aimed to symbolize the bond between tradition and the present. Today this panel can be seen opposite to the Saddle-making workshop in the Craftsman Street. It is the work of hundreds of people and its message in a nutshell is the following: "With the threads of the past and the joy of the present we have woven in our hope for the future!"
Thread in History panel created on the occasion of 55 years since the opening of Etar Museum.
The diverse folklore program in 2019 featured 260 performers from 13 children's, youth, amateur and professional groups. One highlight at the opening of the 17th International Fair of Traditional Crafts was the show of the Ivan Valev Northern Ensemble for Folk Songs & Dances from Pleven. Other acclaimed folklore groups joined the music and dance program: Dilmani folk dance group and Horo folk dance group from Sofia; the Folklore Dance Club at the Municipality of Stara Zagora, Gabrovo Orchestra, Sivek Group from Gabrovo, the Tarnovo Queen Dance Group from Veliko Tarnovo, the Dance Group at St. Dimitar Besarabovski 1902 Community Center in Besarabovo, Rousse region, Hlopni mi, Tropni Mi Club for Folk Dances from Sevilevo, the Lom Rhythms group for authentic folklore from city of Lom and others.

Apart from Bulgarian folklore, visitors had the opportunity to enjoy the music greetings of the guests from Russia, Serbia and the Republic of South Africa. The program of the Open Stage included presentations of all foreign participants in the fair, as well as of the ones taking part in the Alley of Tastes.
The Ivan Valev Northern Ensemble for Folk Songs & Dances from Pleven. Gallery on Facebook.
During the 17th International Fair of Traditional Crafts, several thematic exhibitions were arranged on the grounds of the museum.

The Bazaar Exhibition Stonecutting was arranged in the loggia of the House with a Tannery. It presents sculptures and other stone articles made by six participants in the 2018 edition of the Craftsman Competition and by students from the Vocational High School of Stonecutting in the village of Kunino.

The exhibition halls above the Wood-carving workshop show the interactive exhibition "Dialogue with the past" dedicated to the 55th anniversary since the opening of Etar Museum. It is a creative box of a kind invoking the curiosity of present-day man as he explores the cultural heritage. In it displayed items share their stories in the first person. The exhibition is a museum experiment to break up the boring monologue in communicating with history.

The display "The master and the form" was mounted at the exhibition hall of Krastnikkolchov Inn. It features articles made by participants in the 2008 and 2014 Craftsman Competitions. On the last day of the Fair, the exhibition was complemented with articles from the competition held in 2019.

The Hungarian ethnographic exhibition "Holloko, the living village" displayed in the Exhibition hall above the Cow-bell making workshop featured the picturesque Hungarian village and its environs. Holloko is the first village in the world put on the UNESCO world cultural heritage list. Almost every house there is a museum – of history, dolls, postal services and folklore.
The Bazaar Exhibition Stonecutting. Gallery on Facebook.
Based on the work to prepare the Fair and its results, its 17th edition has been evaluated as very successful. The notable foreign presence, the attractive Craftsman Competition, the impressive demonstrations of artisans, the interesting exhibitions, the diverse folklore program and last but not least, the novelties mentioned above resulted in an imposing turnout of visitors during this major museum event. These basic components making up the structure of the International Fair of Traditional Crafts have increasingly created an awareness of it as an established model for preservation, presentation and promotion of the tangible and intangible cultural heritage in the field of the traditional arts and crafts.
Team of "Etar" museum.
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