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One day trip > Event of August – Sorochinskaya Fair


On generous Poltava land, in Sorochintsy village, on the Psel River, one of numerous local fairs used to be held. There were many of them in those times, separated from us by two centuries. It would have been lost in centuries and wiped off by whirlwinds of future revolutions, if a boy had not been born in the family of a local doctor on April 1, 1809 — future outstanding writer Nikolay Gogol.

He became the most famous propagandist of Poltava region, making its Dikanka, Mirgorod and Sorochintsy almost worldwide famous. Since then, honored with his literary genius, Sorochinskaya Fair has been reckoned among the most famous fairs of Ukraine. Even the Soviet Authorities admitted that it would be a pity to interrupt such tradition. So, starting with 1960th Sorochinskaya Fair has been whirring and blooming, singing and having fun, eating and drinking and, naturally, trading.

Big Sorochintsy welcome thousands of tourists at the last week-end of August. The fair is organized as a folk festival full of rich Poltava coloring. Where if not here, in the very heart of Ukraine, can one trade and celebrate with such truly Cossack range?

One should go to Sorochintsy not for traditional mass consumption goods. Gifts of Poltava land are the main things here: huge watermelons, ripened on the last days of August, Poltava and Mirgorod dumplings, a lot of home food, cooked by recipes of skillful in housekeeping hostesses from neighborhood villages and towns, including burning “gorilka” and chilly kvass, not to mention products of folk trades, which have the most important part at the fair. Embroideries and carpets from Reshetilovka and Dikanka, pottery from Oposhnya – these are all also “brands” of Poltava region, as well as Gogol with his colorful heroes. In general, one should walk around the fair in Sorochintsy, watching very carefully – Gogol`s characters are immortal and you will definitely meet Solokha and Red Panko not just on the stage as personages of folk collectives, but sometimes right among visitors.

Since Big Sorochintsy is the place of birth of N. Gogol, there is a museum, dedicated to the writer in the village. Notebook and travelling bag of the writer, which accompanied Gogol during his trips about Europe and his voyage to the Holy Sepulcher in Palestine are among the main Gogol`s relics in the Museum. Transfiguration Church of 1732 is another place of interest in Sorochintsy. From outside it is masterpiece of Ukrainian Baroque. But the main miracle is inside. Unique seven-level carved iconostasis 20 meters wide and 17 meters long contains a hundred icons of the 17th century. Ukrainian Hetman Danilo Apostle was buried in the Church (In 1727 – 34). He owned Big Sorochintsy and built the Temple using his own means. Now there is a monument to the Hetman by the Temple. Gogol was christened in the church that is now reminded by the memorial plaque.

The program of one-day tour:

06.00

Departure from Kiev by comfortable bus, accompanied by an experienced guide. Place of departure of the group – the stop near “Sport Palace” Underground station.

11.00

Excursion to the literary-memorial museum of N.V. Gogol. Visiting Spas-Transfiguration Church – burial vault of Apostle Daniil.

 

Arriving at Sorochinskaya Fair in Sorochintsy village. Tourist will have spare time for getting souvenirs.

16.00

Departure from Sorochintsy

22.00

Arriving at Kiev

 

Cost of the tour includes: travelling by comfortable bus, services of a guide, group insurance.

Cost of the tour does not include meals.

Program of the fair includes:

  • Performance of folk collectives and kobza players;
  • Fair of souvenirs from different regions of Ukraine, creations of folk masters;
  • Variety of dishes of Ukrainian cuisine.

 


Svetlana Svischeva

The head of the project “Sorochinskaya Fair”
Svetlana SVISCHEVA:

THERE WILL BE MORE LITERARY HEROES
IN THE CURRENT, JUBILEE, “SOROCHINSKAYA FAIR”

National Sorochinskaya Fair will whirl again in Poltava region on August 16-21. The 180th anniversary of this Gogol`s brainchild will be celebrated this year. It will be officially opened at 11 a.m. on August 17. Sorochinskaya fair has been one of the most vivid trademarks of Poltava region and Ukraine for a long time. Although it wasn`t always like that. Hundreds of fairs took place in Ukraine at old times; tens of them were more large-scale than the above-mentioned one. And the village, which represented it, has changed its name several times. Sorochintsy were not lost in time and became “Big” only due to its famous fellow-townsman Nikolay Gogol, who was born there, in the house of the famous doctor M. Trokhimovskiy. Little Nikosha was christened there, in the local Transfiguration Church of the Saviour with the unique carved iconostasis, which is the “pearl” of Ukrainian Baroque. 22 years later the novel “Sorochinskaya Fair” was written by him and published. So we celebrate its 180th anniversary this year. The symbolic jubilee certainly leaves its traces on present-day creators of the festive action.

We discuss Gogol`s “brainchild” and peculiarities of the current fair with the head of the project “Sorochinskaya Fair”, knight of the order of Princess Olga of 1 and 2 degree Svetlana SVISCHEVA.

Svetlana Ivanovna, you took up “Sorochinskaya Fair” at a difficult time. What priorities have you determined and what has your team managed to do since then?

 

At the fair

First of all, I would like to thank out predecessors, especially inhabitants of Mirgorod, who renewed the tradition of the fair in Big Sorochintsy, which was interrupted for almost half a century, in 1966. I was honored to join this activity at the position of the Deputy Head of Poltava regional administration in 1998. Capabilities of the administrative resource, which allowed organizing large-scale trade and entertainments in “compulsory but made to appear as voluntary order”, had been almost exhausted by that time. At the same time, there was permanent shortage of budget means for providing elementary comfort. That`s why the field, which was crossed by over a million people in a couple of days, was lit by just half a dozen lamps and even a light rain turned it into an impassable bog. Under such conditions, we had to make a proposition to commercialize this symbolic for Ukraine action, attract means from participants and sponsors, develop a proper conception. That is why in 1999 Co Ltd “Sorochinskaya Fair” was founded. It became the organizer and manager of the annual event.

Much has been done by its team during 12 years. The unique “trademark” of the fair — the neat town of craftsmen is the evidence of that. It is an ethnographic open-air museum with a complex of constructions, equipped stage grounds, asphalted paths and so on… Finally, we got recognition on the official level too. According to the President`s order, Sorochinskaya Fair became national in 1991. Afterwards, we reaffirmed this status many times.

But intentions of high-ranking officials to “dress” the fair square in glass, concrete and plastic haven’t been realized…

Today such proposals are taken with irony. At that time we had to struggle such innovations seriously. We were offered to build fundamental up-to-date pavilions here, to turn Sorochintsy into the “second Stuttgart” and so on. It would probably modernize the “body” of the fair, but would deprive it of its soul. Time proved that our course of preserving authenticity, deep folk traditions of the action, which actually attract attention of the world to it, was correct. Its connection with modern times through communication of businessmen, folk masters, craftsmen, inherited from Gogol`s times, proved its value. Everybody knows that our fair is not just bargaining, but also a special coloring, the holiday of Ukrainian spirit, cognition of endless folklore sources, real treasures of culture. That is why despite the fact, that there are plenty of large-scale fairs and ethnic festival in Ukraine today, the number of participants and guests of the fair keeps increasing. It should be mentioned that two weeks before the beginning the number of those, who applied for participation, reached more than 80%.

Probably, for many of them it won`t be their first trip to Big Sorochintsy. What will the “frequenters” of the fair see there this time?

Changes and innovations are visible to the naked eye. Under the agreement with the local Soviet of the village, we have created a small park area by the entrance to our territory. We planted ornamental trees, bushes, laid flower beds there. Similar planting appeared on the fair square, which kept being fenced in. It was done to put in order and beautify the territory and, at the same time, zone it more accurately, prevent separate areas from turning into “flea markets” with unofficial trade, advertisements, etc. The craftsmen’s town was rearranged not to slump market and entertaining events. There is more space for craftsmen now. We also rebuild their pavilions, constructed in antique style. And the main thing — we have mounted two additional power transmission lines and put 6-8 lamps into each pavilion. That is why craftsmen will be able to sell their production almost 24 hours a day from now on. We will set one more shed and put more benches in Khivrya` house. We will also build two brick toilets with modern conveniences. There is a project of a new entrance arch, but we will not be able to build it this year. The old mill will be demounted from its usual place and a new one built instead of it. But the old one, the image of which has become the symbol of Sorochinskaya fair, will not disappear. We will just replace it further, to the other side of the territory, where private entrepreneurs represent their production. Since these people almost never leave their work places, we plan to build a little stage in that area, so that they don’t feel deprived of entertainment.

Both children and old people have fun at the fair. How do you manage to satisfy such variety of tastes, when forming the cultural program?

There used to be complaints that it was impossible to see and hear everything and some people got to know about a “special appeal” too late. That is why this year we release an additional number of copies of our free fair newspaper, where the whole list of cultural events will be represented on four pages. The new mill will have its new help-desk center. It is almost impossible now to enumerate each point of the almost week-long program. But I should be mentioned that Nikolay Vasilyevich Gogol, his heroes and the oxes, necessary for their appearance on the square, will be present without any fail. And, considering the 180th anniversary of the “main” novel of the event, the number of the above-mentioned heroes will be increased noticeably. We plan to involve not only professional actors. We will announce a contest for the best performance of, at least, separate fragments and scenes from this immortal work of literature among amateur drama groups.

The festival of folk art at National Sorochinskaya Fair will be held again. We have held it in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture for seven years on end. Along with the traditional marathon of songs, dances, games and fun, we have prepared several “special appeals” and we recommend not missing them. In particular, we plan to organize full-format evening parties, involving folklore collectives of Poltava region. Some of their members are participants of similar rituals in real life. So, this will be authentic and true experience of people, who will pass it to their children and grandchildren. On another day we will represent an old Ukrainian wedding with involvement of the appropriate museum, which appeared in an isolated farmstead near Dikanka. We plan to find real newly-weds.

Young people are usually especially hard-to-please by entertainment and cultural events…

The evening program for them is not limited only to a traditional discotheque. We invite many young talented performers, who have become known not only in Ukraine lately, to perform on the main stage. Among them there are such talents as the participant of Eurovision Alesha, stars of the popular STB show “X-Factor” (“Captain Grant`s Children” group, Maria Rak and others), the winner of Konstantin Meladze`s project “Star Factory” Erika.

Although, our experience proves that young people seek not only stars of show-business or modern performer at Sorochinskaya Fair. Since the special atmosphere here stimulates young people to familiarize with the treasury of folklore, the best examples admired by their ancestors. I`m sure you have notice that many young people come to the fair, dressed in “vishyvankas”, or buy them here and put on at once, adorn themselves with production of folk masters. They sing and dance together with folk groups, try to play “forgotten” musical instruments. That is why when we founded the art festival of talents “Golden Mill” in the framework of cultural program of the fair, we wanted to see more young people among its guests and participants. We will hold the festival this year too, since our expectations have come true. There will be more prosaic entertainments, such as presentation of traditional Ukrainian dishes — borsch, kulesh, Ukrainian dumplings — on the ground by the main stage. A fair day will be dedicated to each of them. With sponsors` support so much of them will be boiled about the public`s ears, that I hope there will be enough of them for everyone, wishing to taste.

The Fair-2011 turns out really “tasty” and captivating. In conclusion, Svetlana Ivanovna, I would appreciate some piece of advice from you for those, who will come to Big Sorochintsy for the first time this year.

I advise to get ready for this trip at home by visiting the website of Sorochinskaya Fair. There is a section “Advice for tourists”. It contains information about how to get to Big Sorochintsy, where to stay and eat there, etc. There is a directory of routes for automobilists, train and bus schedules. It should be reminded that managers of the fair do not take care of accommodation of tourists, but there are contact phone numbers of the executive of the local Soviet of the village, who can recommend addresses of local inhabitants, who can receive guests in their houses. We will try to set a little encampment with sponsors` support this year. Young people will be able to stay there for token payment. We will place detailed information about it, as well as information about the cultural program, on our site a little later. But I can recommend in advance supplementing it with visiting Nikolay Gogol Literary-Memorial Museum in Big Sorochintsy and Transfiguration Church of the Saviour.

By the way, last year we promoted releasing the gorgeous illustrated edition “Sorochinskiy iconostasis”, this year we plan to represent a similar gift edition of “Sorochinskaya Fair” by N. Gogol. But the main thing is the novel never ends. It keeps living in the vivid fair diversity today. So we will see you in Big Sorochintsy!

The interview was conducted by Vasiliy NEIZHMAK, journalist.

Media Center of “Prime Excursion Bureau”

July 2011

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Event of August – Sorochinskaya Fair


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