Holiday fair of masters

Guests from Lithuania and Poland join folk masters and craftsmen from all over Belarus in Grodno, to celebrate day honouring their patron: Saint Kazimir

By Piotr Iosifov

Grodno recently hosted its traditional Kazyuki fair for the tenth time: a true spring holiday. Already, it is an important event in the culture of our three neighbouring nations.

The fair dates from four centuries ago, when it began as a public holiday, explains the Deputy Chair of the Grodno City Executive Committee, Irina Senchenkova. “Every year, the popularity of our fair grows, as does the number of participants. Initially, only a few dozen masters attended. Three years ago, over a hundred came to demonstrate their works and, this year, we welcomed about 200 masters from Grodno, Minsk, Vitebsk, Gomel, Slonim, Lida, Smorgon, Ostrovets and other cities. We even had Ukrainian guests. Our festival included a concert programme, with songs performed in three languages: Belarusian, Polish and Lithuanian. For the first time, the Kruszewo folk music and dance ensemble took part, from Poland’s Podlaskie Voivodeship.”

The fair usually begins in the afternoon, in Grodno’s major square, accompanied by the stroke of ancient chimes from Farny Roman Catholic Church. People flock to the stalls, searching for presents among the multitude of wonderful crafts. It’s rare to see so many handmade items in one place: straw hats and caskets, wooden barrels and whistles, pictures, embroidered fabrics, costume jewellery and so much more. A blacksmith beats hot metal with a hammer, watched intently by an audience; his creations can then be bought as souvenirs. Among the most amazing are his forged roses.

Galina Buzun, from the Grodno Region’s Slonim, aroused much interest with her carving and wood painting. She brought many interesting pieces to the fair. “Eight people are employed at our workshop,” she tells us. “All are passionate about art and can hardly live without it. They are always delighted to take part in Kazyuki.”

Sergey Bondarenko, from Smorgon, also brought wonderful wooden pieces; he has his own workshop and worked hard all winter. “It’s vital to find a good idea for later implementation in wood,” he explains. “Anything I make with passion is so much more beloved, so tends not to be sold. I just showcase these pieces, taking pleasure in sharing their beauty.”

Minsk craftsman Vladimir Kudritsky always attends the Grodno fair and has been working with ceramics since childhood. He even has his own workshop. “I make various pieces from baked clay and will certainly come again next year, with pleasure,” Vladimir stresses.

Valentina Chichkova, from Grodno, brought her unusual collection of dolls, which she speaks of with a smile. “I’ve mustn’t have played with enough dolls in childhood, so I sew them now. It gives me pleasure and I hope that those who buy my dolls are also delighted.”

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