First free day, the spassky fair. Sadly the weather had by now completely turned from heat wave to Scottish temperatures and rain, everyone was freezing but it was still mild for us Scottish lassies and later the sun came out and dried everything lifting the mood. Friday had been such an overwhelming fairy tale it was almost a good balance to have the driech start to Saturday. It was another frustrating start to the day with much shilly-shallying about and members of our group wandering off, no focus, despite the best efforts of Anna to make the best plan possible, we spent 20 minutes going 10 meters back and forth “ I want the shop, I want the bank, what day is it, where are we going ? “ . group dynamics!
Eventually the bossy ones ( probably me) frog marched everyone to the fair where we were due to watch the opening ceremony. As it was relatively cold, Gulnara had bought blankets to sit on, but it was decreed that we should keep moving to start warm as we’d get cold on the seats.
The opening ceremony is still going on I think, 3 days of music, dance and song, very colourful, tickertape flying, young people in bright bright costumes, overseen by the police in capes and big hats. Ah, the police women? You wouldn’t mess with them, but they wear non standard high heels! And carry handbags!?
Very surreal. The one photo call Shinod couldn’t get was with the Politzi as they were on duty & take it very seriously. The fair is huge, I took my chance, and after watching over Meena for a while took my leave and zipped around taking in everything as much as I could, keep not to miss anything when there was so much.
Handicrafts are alive and well in Yelabuga, they are not merely the hobby of the elderly, resigned to history and hospital therapy rooms, derided and considered little value. At the museum there are master classes in weaving , lacemaking, knotting, macramé, wooden crafts etc. So at the fair there was a wonderful variety of of course Russian dolls, icons, enamelled folkart cups and pots, smoke fired pottery, beadwork, crochet, lace work, leather work, paintings, pewter cast jewellery, Tartarstan style hats, birch bark crafts, Russian fur hats, all quality work. Smells of glorious cookery and bakery emerged from tents all around, smoke from fires, qnd the demonstrating blacksmith, yurts, horses and a camel gave people a ride, the performers sang on .
On the main stage a mixture of folk music and pop songs sang by ladies in Barbie dresses. On a couple of smaller stages folk music from different regions with people in a vast array of magnificent traditional costumes. Its not so much like travelling back in time, its just that the past never got separated from the present like it has in the UK. It feels like we only have vague memories of the cultural heritage, of folk ways, shadows in the stones. Here it is a continuous thread very much alive and vibrant.
to be continued;