After eastern and May holidays we started with more intense preparation for the Shipka Fest and we engaged in it for whole month.
Like promotion of the festival we had our stand with souvenirs and pies on festival Здравей Здраве (“Hello Health”) in Culture House Arsenal in Kazanlak. Like another kind of advertising already before last weekend of the festival, Axel and Ophelie dressed up into traditional Bulgarian clothes and they were giving flyers to people on the main pedestrian zone in Kazanlak.
Technical part of preparation consisted mostly in maintenance of the museum area after winter: cutting grass, cleaning pavements, planting new flowers, doing order in the storage room, renovating signboard in front of the entrance, installation of temporary roof on the trellis…
Martin worked on finishing posters about our Erasmus+ programme, which Paulina started some months ago. It was mostly about writing texts in Cyrilic and printing and gluing photos.
But the biggest job was building café. Ivan was the main constructor and built new electricity and watter installation, lights and cupboards with work space and a sink. We borrowed a little coffee machine and dishes. Eileen created place for exhibiting souvenirs on a nice wooden branch.
After the big preparation began the festival, which was held on three weekends. Bojidar with her wife Marta took care about the café, which was working for the first time, and we learned from them, how to make coffee or lemonades and always someone from us had shift there.
Shipka fest – weekend 1
During the first weekend, we had workshops of weaving carpets on loom and Kalofer lace in garden of the museum. We had also opening of exhibition of posters about Bulgarian alphabet in Chitalishte and also interesting movie programme. We projected for example almost 90 years old silent movie “Under the Eagles nest”, which was filmed in Shipka and the main actor was Petko Chirpanliev – the last owner of the house, where is our museum. Another movie was French ‘La Belle Verte’ – Green Planet, about planet, where people lives closely connected with nature. It was great movie and gave us peaceful atmosphere and strong feeling for the nature, about which we have to care, because it give us life.
Shipka fest – weekend 2
On the second weekend, including national holiday of Bulgarian alphabet on Friday, we had the biggest event of Shipka fest and everybody was involved. Also our previous volunteer Paulina came with her sister from Germany to visit us and help on the festival. We built an infostand near the museum, where we hanged our posters. We created a schedule with shifts in the Café, Museum, Chitalishte, Infopoint and taking photos and care about thrash bins around the area.
The main venue was in the center of Shipka. On the main street around the museum were many stands with art and craft, food or rose products. Around the museum were happening craft workshops of pottery, blacksmith, soap making and others. For children we had also prepared the treasurehunt and tour with horses. In Chitalishte was again cinema programme. On the evening was prepared music programme. It started on the stage on main square with some traditional Bulgarian music. But the next programme was cancelled, because of a storm and heavy rain. But all the participants were sitting under the roof next to the café and they were playing and singing themselves and it became nice evening.
The Sunday was free and we had little bit of rest and visited Thracian tombs all together with an expert Denica.
Shipka fest – weekend 3
Before the last weekend of the festival, we went pick some roses. We went by cars to one rose field behind Buzovgrad and there we spent maybe 2 hours picking the flowers into bags. It was after (or little bit in) a rain and in a storm and there was nice wet atmosphere. We brought quite lot of roses and after we were using them for tea. But the main reason was event on Saturday:
Rose oil making ritual. It was performance of traditional celebration of rose picking with music and dances. Martin and Axel also participated in this performance. They dressed up in traditional Bulgarian costume and were holding a scales for symbolic weighing of roses.
After this the festival continued with some little events, but Martin with Eileen didn’t participate and went to Plovdiv to visit the famous Kapana fest.
Except the festival We found also some time for gardening – weeding, planting potatoes or collecting bad bugs.
On the end of May changed our volunteers. We said goodbye to Adel, who went home after one year. And new volunteers came for one year – Ophelie from France, she stayed on the beginning in Christos house until we had free room for her. On the last day of the Shipka fest came Michael from the Czech Republic, also for one year.
But we had also other new members of our household. During Eastern were born three kittens of our cat Shara. When they were little, we left them in a basket in the house and Shara was very good mother and she always watched door against other violent cats. Later we found on the street another two black kittens, which were on first days only on the garden, but later Shara adopted them like own.
Author: Martin Votava
Photo: Eileen Wylicil, Adel Eddalahyane, Lea (volunteer in Balkep)