Active Communities for Development Alternatives

The Festival of Traditional Food, Livelihood and Crafts "The Culinary Heritage of Trakya" has Finished

Tuesday, 04 September 2012

On September 01st - 02nd, 2012 in Ivailovgrad was held the first edition of the Festival of Traditional Food, Livelihood and Crafts "The Culinary Heritage of Trakya". Organizer of the initiative is Chitalishte "Probuda 1914" Ivailovgrad. The festival is part of AGORA Platform's project "Activating Communities through the Chitalishta in Bulgaria: second phase", funded by America for Bulgaria Foundation. Various producers were presented at the festival: of fruits and vegetables, honey, tahini, wine and rakia, baked products, jams, herbs and spices, etc. Craftsmen and artists from Bulgaria, Turkey and Greece were able to exhibit their works. The festival presented culinary, livelihood and crafts from the Trakya region.

The festival program started with a panoramic tour including:

  • Protected site Dupkata (The Hole) with visits to places suitable for panoramic views and photos;
  • Visit to the ethnographic exposition in "Paskaleva kushta" with an option to take a moment photo with authentic folklore costume;
  • Exposition center of family memory in the Chitalishte at "Ladza" and opportunity to purchase postcards and magnets;
  • the Antique Roman villa "Armira" where visitors are invited for a glass of wine and the performance "Constellation Called Love".

The festival opened at 8 pm with the "Night of the Last Wine". Among the guests were: Mr. Lenko Lenkov, Program Director "Civil Society" at America for Bulgaria Foundation; Mr. Eric C. De Sena, Director of the American Research Center in Sofia; Mrs. Emilia Lissichkova, Chairperson of Platform AGORA; Mrs. Camelia Cholakova, Regional Coordinator of the project "Activating Communities through the Chitalishta in Bulgaria" and a Chairperson of South Chitalishte Association for Development; Ms. Kremena Hristova, Platform AGORA's PR Officer; Mr. Emil Varbanov, Senior Expert at National Fund "Culture" at the Ministry of Culture; Ass. Vladislav Popov , Organic Farming Coordinator at "New Thracian Gold" project; Mrs. Iva Toncheva, PR Officer of the project; guests from Turkey involved - Mr. Biulent Badjiolu, Director of Tourist Information Center in Edrine; Mr. Osma Aihan Yozerdogan, Mechanical Engineer; Mr. Sevgi Yozerdogan, Tourism and Biology Expert and Mr. Ali Kanar,Tourism teacher.

The representatives of local authorities on the first festival evening included: Mrs. Diama Ovcharova, Mayor of Ivailovgrad Municipality; Mrs. Elena Karapeikova, Secretary of Ivailovgrad Municipality; Mr. Stefan Tonev, Deputy-mayor of Ivailovgrad Municipality; Mrs. Violeta Nedyalkova, Deputy-mayor of Ivailovgrad Municipality; municipal councilors and citizens.

Mrs. Emilia Lissichkova spoke about the project goals related with strengthening and promoting the model of community participation in local problem solving, the support of public causes through the Chitalishtes and strengthening of their civic role. The initiative of Chitalishte "Probuda 1914" is among the eighteen initiatives, distributed in six specialized thematic areas and more specifically in the area "Traditional Food and Livelihood Festivals".

Mrs. Emilia Lissichkova presented Mrs. Ovcharova, Chairperson of Chitalishte "Probuda 1914" and Mayor of Ivailovgrad with a certificate for successful implementation of the civic initiative. In response, Mrs. Ovcharova thanked and confirmed that the festival would become part of the celebration calendar of Ivailovgrad and thus be among the events representing the municipality. The evening was full of music and poems. The local wine producer Yamantiev provided wine for the official opening evening of the festival. As a traditional wine region, the magical elixir became one of the town's symbols. Thus, the day of Ivailovgrad is celebrated on February 14th - the Day of winegrowers and winemakers.

On the next day, the festival events took place at the Light Castle complex. Residents from the neighboring villages in the municipality took part: Svirachi, Slaveevo, Drabishna, Pokrovan, Plevun, Ladga neighborhood in Ivailovgrad. The residents of Ivailovgrad had decorated a stand where the town life of the 20th century was represented and the typical culinary specialties of the time were tasted.

Also, farmers producing honey, tahini, wine, rakia and grapes had their produce on the stands.

The demonstration workshops of Chitalishte "Probuda 1914" and the children craft workshops of South Chitalishte Association for Development presented on their stand souvenir plates, paintings, mosaics, painted pottery, dolls, postcards and magnets.

The jewelry workshop "Emerald" from the town of Madgarovo had various gems on their stand and every visitor was able to see the collection and take home original jewelry and ornaments as a typical souvenir from the Eastern Rodopes.

Great interest among the children had the pottery workshop "Kalinia from Dimitrovgrad working with ecological materials from the natural.


The whole day the potter's wheel did not stop working. The master demonstrated his skills and helped everyone who wanted to give it a try. The training on the spot included clay preparation, work with the potter's wheel and tools. Each person who went through the training got a certificate "A Master for a Day".

Certificates were handed out to the participants in the applied design and culinary workshops. Most active were the kids who got involved in the sandwich making activities. They were encouraged and praised by the Festival Jury for their skills.

"New Thracian Gold" project had two stands at the festival presenting bio products from the Eastern Rodopes - wine, grapes, honey, tahini, sesame, nuts, herbs, einkorn wheat bread, salad with einkorn wheat, white and black chickpea, homemade tahini halva, einkorn wheat flour.

On the stand were available information materials such as brochures, leaflets with information about the sites in the region of Eastern Rodopes, with locations of organic farmers' farms; a tourist map and the first ever regional culinary guide with recipes for meat dishes with organic ingredients and the contact details of the organic farmers. The festival guests stopped at both project stands to exchange experience with the producers and to speak with the Organic Farming Coordinator of the project Ass. Vladislav Popov.


Mr. Nikolai Radulov demonstrated his carving skills transforming a pumpkin into an elegant vase and the fruits and vegetables into beautiful flowers.

Participants from the neighboring cross-border Greek Municipality were bakers from the village of Cyprino. The participants from Edrine, Republic of Turkey promoted information materials for Turkish producers, bread and sweet specialties - Turkish delight, halva, baklava - famous all over the world with their unique taste.

The local bakeries ST "Rumba" - Rumen Panayotov and "Tania" - Pancho Panayotov presented ritual breads from Ivailovgrad region.

The accompanying cultural program involved performance of the Tracian choir "Yani Popov", Ivailovgrad, folklore group from Pokrovan village, "Nezbravka" group at the Pensioners' Club in Plevun village. The Chitalishte "Probuda 1914" groups for: old city songs, ladies choir for folklore songs, group for Eastern Rodopes songs (Svaleevo branch), and authentic folklore group (Svirachi branch).

The green areas of Light Castle complex provided the folklore fans with enough space to enjoy the open stage performances. The stands with plenty of various products satisfied the interest of visitors who tasted, took part in the demonstrations and awaited the Jury evaluations.

The Commission members: Mrs. Camellia Cholakova, representative of Platform AGORA, Mr. Biulent Badjiolu, Director of Tourist Information Center in Edrine and Mrs. Mariana Prodanova, Music teacher awarded the festival prizes.

A plate "The Most Active Participation" was awarded to the group from Slaveevo village.


The prize for "The Most Attractive Stand" went to the group from Svirachi village. They also received the prize "The Best Pastry" for the prepared on site and baked "zelnik pod vrashnik" and banitca with bulgur and cottage cheese.

A plate "The Best Ethno Vision" was awarded to the group from Ladga neighbourhood, Ivailovgrad; Mr. Petko Angelov from the "New Thracian Gold" project received "The Most Delicious and Healthy Product" prize for einkorn wheat bread. The prizes were presented by Mrs. Diana Ovcharova, Mayor of Ivailovgrad Municipality.

All festival participants received certificates for participation.

The festival organizers express their thankfulness to the sponsors: "Armira" Ltd., Mrs. Stanka Teneva Nikolova, „Konstantin 07" Ltd., Mr. Krasimir Argirov, Mr. Zlatil Dimirtov Hadjiev, Mr. Nikola Atanasov Raev, ST „Digent - Georgi Toshkov"

As well as to:

  • Mr. Philip Dimitrov who provided the premises of "Light Castle" complex free of charge for the festival;
  • Wine cellar "Vinivel" - Yamantiev family provided wine for the two festival days free of charge;
  • "Roje Textile" Ltd. - made the table covers for the festival free of charge,

and to all volunteers involved in the festival organization. Everyone - organizers, participants and visitors wished the festival to become traditional because all of us had the responsibility to preserve our tradition, customs and culture.

The material was prepared by the team of Chitalishte "Probuda-1914"

Photographs by: AGORA Platform and Mihail Georgiev