Republican Dozhinki Festival celebrated in Belarus
Around 50,000 guests from across the country, as well as from Russia, Lithuania and Georgia, were welcomed by the hospitable town of Gorki this year. As is traditional, the solemn event began by honouring those who had brought in this year’s record breaking harvest: 9.2m tonnes of grain - almost 1 tonne per head of the population. This surpasses last year’s figure by over a million tonnes.
Awards were given to 247 agricultural machine operators while 17 crews were recognised for surpassing their target of 3,500 tonnes of grain. Combine operator Mikhail Saladukha set an absolute record of 7,716 tonnes of grain.
Engineers, agro-technicians and heads of enterprises were among those awarded at the Republican contest, with prizes presented by the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko. The best senior combine operators and youth crews received automobiles and have every right to feel proud of their success. This year, Belarus boasts the greatest crop yield of cereals in its history: 45 centners per hectare.
On the first day of the holiday, a commemorative sign was placed in the central square — a Symbol of Gorki Land’s Welfare. Meanwhile, an avenue was laid alongside the lake to honour the best harvesters. Dozhinki celebrates more than just the harvest though; it is a festival for everyone.
Previous towns which have hosted Dozhinki are Stolin, Mosty, Nesvizh, Shklov, Mozyr, Pruzhany, Volkovyssk, Slutsk, Bobruisk, Rechitsa, Orsha, Kobrin, Lida and Molodechno. Each has been changed by the event, with old buildings repaired, new important sites built and streets and squares renovated. In Gorki, a cinema, hotels, stations and historical buildings have acquired new life. Gorki Local History Museum celebrated its relaunch, having relocated to a late 19th-early 20th century house built by perfumer Kazimierz Padzerski; he made Gorki famous worldwide by inventing his ‘Kazimi-metamorphosis’ cream, which prevented freckles. The nobleman was awarded a gold medal at the World Expo in Paris in 1900. Gorki-born famous Russian writer and publicist Lev Razgon wrote that his father used to work in Padzerski’s workshop, making the miraculous cream.
He also writes: ‘My elder brother Sol — a guardian of family relics and photographs — has an old photographic shot which depicts everyone involved in the production of ‘Kazimi-metamorphosis’. Kazimierz Padzerski is at the centre, surrounded by his staff. Workers stand some distance from him, including my father — as a young man, with twirled moustache, wearing a rough tarpaulin apron’.
Apart from these recollections and the building itself, no memorial to Padzerski existed until the museum opened an exhibition to the perfumer recently — including his unique recipes for fragrances, dating from the 19th century. These were found by workers in the attic (inside the house lagging) during restoration for the Dozhinki Festival. Another new exhibition is devoted to local photographer Ariel, who once made Gorki famous by claiming gold at the World Expo in Paris. His early 20th century shots are also on display.
Another late 19th-early 20th century building was quickly restored for the Republican festival, from old photos; it once housed a post office and is now a contemporary dentist’s surgery. The Belarusian State Agricultural Academy is another of the town’s gems, training around 15,000 students - including those from Russia. It was founded in 1836, when the Tsarist Government decided to open an agronomic school in the Mogilev Province’s Gorki. At that time, agro-technicians and those destined to run state and private estates trained there, with the school quickly gaining a reputation across Russia. In 1848, it became an agronomic institute: Russia’s first agricultural higher educational establishment with university status. After the 1863 rebellion, in which teachers and students took part, the institute was moved to St. Petersburg. Later, it returned to Gorki and became an academy. Now, it boasts 16 buildings, 14 hostels and a library containing over 1m editions, including rare books.
The town transformed magnificently for Dozhinki, with a new hostel (accommodating 860) built, accommodating guests. A luxurious cultural and entertainment centre also appeared, with an amphitheatre seating 2,500: the festival’s major venue. A capsule was laid in the foundations of the future media-centre, containing a message for our descendants.
The ancient building of the academy is wonderfully preserved, including its luxurious botanical garden - founded in the times of the Gory-Goretskaya agronomic school, in 1849, by Italian architect Kampioni. At his instruction, plants were delivered from various corners of Belarus and the Russian Empire, as well as from foreign botanical collections. Today, it’s a scientific research laboratory known for its tree nursery and was declared a Republican natural monument in 1963.
The President of Belarus received his second higher education there and, since his student days, it has been updated to meet all contemporary requirements. Its students receive practical experience, as well as theoretical knowledge, and the site hosts Belarus’ largest fish breeding facilities; up to 3m rainbow trout are to be bred there.
A scientific and practical centre on aqua-culture is to be established there, teaching students from the Ichthyology and Fish Culture Department. Moreover, a super-farm for 280 cows is being currently constructed at the Academy — unrivalled within the post-Soviet space. Its training and production facilities will have the latest automated equipment, a wind generator and solar panels, educational lab-classrooms, and dairy and veterinary units.
Over 250 sites have been built and reconstructed within an extremely short time in Gorki — a record for the Republican festival. The town has received a new look, as has the district, with two new signs being installed at the entrance to Gorki. Ten contemporary new dairy farms have also appeared.
The President underlined at the holiday that the Gorki District should become an example to others, with executives studying such ‘models’. He hopes that residents will carefully preserve and value their new facilities.
By Olga Kislyak
Holiday always with you
[b]Republican Dozhinki Festival celebrated in Belarus[/b]Around 50,000 guests from across the country, as well as from Russia, Lithuania and Georgia, were welcomed by the hospitable town of Gorki this year. As is traditional, the solemn event began by honouring those who had brought in this year’s record breaking harvest: 9.2m tonnes of grain - almost 1 tonne per head of the population. This surpasses last year’s figure by over a million tonnes.