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The Largest Belarusian Fair Revived with the Support of an EU/UNDP Project

On August 21, the urban-type settlement of Zeĺva (Hrodna Region) hosted Anna’s Fair – formerly one of the largest trade and entertainment festivals in Europe. The revival of the fair is the result of joint efforts undertaken by the administration of the settlement and the EU/UNDP project “Sustainable Development at Local Level” that aims to revive the traditions of ancestors. The project provided financial and advisory assistance to Zeĺva residents to resume the fair.

Anna’s Fair once used to be the second largest fair in the Old World after Leipzig Fair. Anna’s Fair – named after Saint Anna – was attended by up to five thousand merchants, and its sales turnover came up to a million rubles. That was the 18th century, when the ruble was really golden. In the old days of Anna's Fair people used to say that for eleven months of the year Zeĺva residents were bored, and for one month they lived – the duration of the fair was precisely one month, from July 25 until August 25.

This year, the revived fair has been an important event in the life of the urban-type settlement and its vicinity. Having visited the fair, the guests sort of submerged in the past, because every effort was taken to hold the fair in Zeĺva in accordance with the old traditions. Apart from trading, the fair hosted various festive events: contests and games, a large concert, a master-class in folk dance, performances by Batleika Theatre, a brass band, a circus team and horsemen, a city of artisans, fireworks, and much more.

Deputy Chairman of the Zeĺva District Executive Committee Valentin Semenyako pointed out during the briefing at the fair that the assistance of the EU/UNDP project “Sustainable Development at Local Level” helps to take Anna’s Fair to a new level, and to turn it into a good tradition and an example for other districts.

In his turn, Project Manager Dmitry Frischin emphasized that Anna’s Fair was not the only initiative supported by the EU/UNDP project in the District. Thus, the project provides assistance to the Zeĺva Boarding School, where an environmental sightseeing agency is being established. The project also provides assistance to an eco-museum of garments and clothes made of flax – a traditional Belarusian material.

The fair organizers hope that the revived tradition of regular fairs will be conducive to the emergence of stronger ties within the local community, the nurture of pride in their hometown among Zeĺva residents, the revival and development of traditional cultural and historic potential of the settlement.

For additional information, please contact Ms. Marina Borovko, Thematic Coordinator for the Project, at 267-2021, or Mr. Vyacheslav Smirnov, Public Relations Coordinator for the Project, at 8-044-799-1655.

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