Festival with cherry aroma

[b]Glubokoe could become Belarus’ ‘cherry capital’[/b]You may recall the story of famous Baron Munchhausen, who shot a deer with a gun loaded with a cherry stone. On hitting his target, a cherry tree began to grow on the deer’s head. In fact, both the baron and cherries are closely connected with the small city of Glubokoe (in the Vitebsk Region); local folklore states that the great adventurer’s grave is found in the city’s ancient Koptevskoe cemetery, marked with a cross bearing the inscription: ‘Ferdinand u. Wilhelmina von Mьnchhausen’. Residents are always happy to show tourists the spot.
Glubokoe could become Belarus’ ‘cherry capital’

You may recall the story of famous Baron Munchhausen, who shot a deer with a gun loaded with a cherry stone. On hitting his target, a cherry tree began to grow on the deer’s head. In fact, both the baron and cherries are closely connected with the small city of Glubokoe (in the Vitebsk Region); local folklore states that the great adventurer’s grave is found in the city’s ancient Koptevskoe cemetery, marked with a cross bearing the inscription: ‘Ferdinand u. Wilhelmina von Mьnchhausen’. Residents are always happy to show tourists the spot.
As for cherries, many are convinced that the tastiest, sweetest cherries grow in this Belarusian district centre: some joke, as a result of Munchhausen’s hunting. Glubokoe’s streets are snow white in spring, filled with beautiful cherry blossoms. Through the summer, buyers from all over the country come to buy their cherries from Glubokoe, which is considering making the cherry their local symbol. In July 2013, the first Cherry Festival was organised in the city.

How did Glubokoe gain its cherries?
You might wonder why the tastiest cherries grow in Glubokoe; it’s not easy to give a set answer but the climate and soil must play an important role. In the early 20th century, local landlord and plant breeder Boleslav Lapyr studied agrarian science in St. Petersburg, bringing Morello seedlings from Poland. These sweet, rich, winter-hardy cherries gradually spread all over the district.
The idea for the cherry festival first came about in 2012, when Glubokoe residents presented a proposal at the 3rd International Forum: Belarus’ Image: Time to Act (held in Minsk). The jury loved the idea and gave it second place. Interestingly, the festival’s logo was designed by Minsk’s Kryn Agency, which was earlier awarded at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. The Cherry Festival enjoyed auspicious beginnings.

Urban orchard
To prepare for the festival, a large orchard was planted in Glubokoe — covering around 1.5 hectares. Over 1,000 saplings now welcome all those coming to the city along the Polotsk highway; most were planted by local enterprises, organisations and schools but some citizens also took trees from their own gardens. The ‘Seyanets-1’ cherry variety is most prominent, being especially suited to the local climate. Amateur gardener Tatiana Buren, who owns a small seedling nursery, stresses that cherry saplings aren’t easy to grow, needing as much attention as small children: including protection from both hail and hares. While 80 percent of apple trees usually strike root, just 20 percent of cherry trees grow to maturity.
Ms. Buren also grows foreign varieties — including Russian ‘Gurtievka’, Western European ‘Griot Ost-Geimsky’ and American ‘Nord Star’. This spring, when the city was preparing for the festival, high demand for seedlings was registered. As a gardener and cook, Tatiana loves to grow and bake with cherries. Her husband Vladimir, who assists at the nursery, admits that Tatiana’s cherry dumplings are excellent.

Cherry paradise
The Cherry Festival is a delight for gourmands and sweet lovers, not only selling the fruit but offering such culinary masterpieces as winter cherry sponge cake with cream and cherry meadow pie — cooked by Glubokoe’s District Consumer Society. Cher­ry de­­­light dessert is also incredibly tasty! Glubokoe’s Condensed Milk Factory released a themed can of cherry brandy condensed milk especially for the event.
For several years, Podsvilie Distillery (located 25km from Glubokoe) has been making Marshan wine from local cherries. Named after Montreal-born vintner Paskal Marshan, who trained in Burgundy, the wine won a silver medal at the Minsk International Contest of Wine and Cognac Gustation: Expoforum. Moreover, British sommeliers have called it ‘a pure wine’ since it lacks additives or colouring agents. It reaches its 10–12 degree potency through natural fermentation.
The Cherry Festival included diverse sports competitions — such as shooting with cherry stones — at the local stadium, while professional and amateur gardeners took part in a scientific conference, which focused on deciding whether cherries are a fruit or a berry. Vladimir Reshetnikov, from the Belarusian National Academy of Sciences’ Central Botanical Garden, was among those debating the issue.

Cherry beauties
It’s rather sad that cherries have such a short, summer season. Glubokoe residents and guests can now admire a sculpture of a 1.5m cherry branch all year round however. Other artistic works were presented at the Cherry Festival, themed on the delicious fruit, created by painters, photographers and poets.
The Cherry Queen was also crowned, encouraging quick-witted and clever girls to show that beauty can go hand in hand with practical skills and a good brain! These ‘tasty cherries’ certainly showed that women have a wealth of talents.
Interestingly, cherries were sometimes depicted in Orthodox icons rather than apples — symbolising the fruit of knowledge. Cherry flowers are also viewed as a symbol of life, similar to a bridal veil, being white, beautiful and airy. Those wishing to marry traditionally come to Glubokoe’s central square when the cherries are ready for harvest.
This year’s festival closed with an award for the ‘best cherry street’ and another for the largest and tastiest cherry of the 2013 harvest. Youngsters then enjoyed a disco and businessmen discussed serious issues during an investment forum, which gathered representatives from Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Lithuania, Israel, France and Germany. According to Tatiana Molotovnik, a member of the Cherry Festival organising committee, Glubokoe residents learnt from foreign experience on the eve of the holiday. “We surfed the Internet to learn how similar festivals have been organised in Russia’s Vladimir, America’s Traverse City, Croatia’s Lovran and Lithuania’s ґagarė. I hope we managed to create a week of cherry paradise in Glubokoe, enabling guests to see that our city is Belarus’ true ‘cherry capital’,” she says.
Glubokoe residents believe their festival could become a major tourist attraction, drawing travellers and businessmen to the region.

By Sergey Golesnik
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