Active Communities for Development Alternatives

The Brestovica festival has been opened on Krastov den

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

The second edition of the festival "Brestovica – Grapes and Wine" was opened on a holly day – Krastov den, a day marking the start of the grape harvest. The festival is organized by Chitalishte "Saznanie 1873", Brestovica, Rodopy Municipality in the framework of AGORA Platform's project "Activating Communities through the Chitalishta in Bulgaria: second phase", funded by America for Bulgaria Foundation and with the support of Brestovica Mayoralty and the local community.

The rain awaited by local farmers for so long poured just this night, coloring the square with a rainbow and delaying the opening ceremony a little bit. Mr. Luben Radev, Mayor of Brestovica remained the goal of the festival "Brestovica – Grapes and Wine" – to promote the product that is traditional for the region. Mrs. Emilia Lissichkova, Chairperson of AGORA Platform's Board of Trustees encouraged the local people and businesses to take advantage of the opportunities provided by this event and to continue developing and strengthening the glory of their viticultural region. A certificate was awarded to Chitalishte "Saznanie 1873", Brestovica by AGORA Platform for contribution to the development of local communities with the organization and holding of the festival.


The opening ceremony continued with a torchlight procession welcoming Dionysus, on the village square young girls were crushing the wine grapes in wooden barrels with their bare feet and the celebration naturally continued with a horo on the square.


A multimedia presentation was projected on the Chitalishte wall devoted to the grapes and wine of Brestovica. A photo exhibition was arranged in front of the Chitalishte building and in the foyer with archive photos related with Brestovica's grape and wine. A lot of residents were able to recognize themselves in their youth on the photographs and had fun finding out a relative or a friend there as well.


The second festival day started in the early morning with preparation and arrangement of the stands on the square and the garden adjacent to it. The local residents and guests joined in the procession from the "St. Todor Tyron" church to the square where an official liturgy was served.


Mr. Radev, the Mayor of Brestovica greeted the festival participants and guests, pointing out that the idea was to present various grape products and to provide the local producers with opportunities to sell their produce during the two festival days. The ambitions for the future are the festival to become an international event.


Guests of the festival were Mrs. Silvia Hubanova and Mr. Dimitar Lazarov, Members of Parliament from GERB, Mr. Plamen Spasov, Mayor of Rodopy Municipality as well as Mrs. Desislava Jeliazkova, Deputy-mayor of Plovdiv's "Zapaden" region. All of them addressed the village residents and wished a rich grape harvest.

The festival program was opened with an ancient grape harvest ritual presented by the folklore ensemble "Trakiyci" and continued throughout the day with performances of visiting ensembles from neighboring settlements.


During the two festival days on the square of Brestovica various dessert and wine grape varieties were presented and vine products as shara, sweet sausage (sudjuk), fresh grape juice, vine leaves, grape jam (Flame Seedless) were offered. On the souvenir stands, decorated and operated by the youngest residents of Brestovica, they offered hand-made souvenirs from natural materials.




On the stalls there were various attractions: "dressed" with vine motives bottles, vases, desk top pencil cases and baskets made of cones and others. The festival guests were able to taste all grape varieties grown in the region of the village, energize themselves with freshly made grape juice and shara. About 20 children (age 8 – 12) were involved as volunteers in the organization, at the stalls and participated in the festival program.


On the stall with grafted grape vines, Mr. Georgi Bandjakov provided free of charge consultations and information on the "secrets" of growing specific varieties like Syjana, Velika, Naslada, Traminer roter, Brestovica, etc.

At the garden adjacent to the square, a workshop was held "How to prepare a sweet sausage (sudjuk) and a grape jam". The local culinary masters demonstrated on site and explained to the guests the easy way to prepare by themselves a sweet sausage (a dessert made of walnuts and shara) for the cold winter evenings as their grandmothers have done it for decades. The people who tasted the ready produce of sweet sausage were very quick and even reached out to the "warm" sausages that were prepared on site. The red grape jam also quickly vanished and the guests got involved in the boiling of white grape jam that was all consumed while hot. The recipes for sweet grape sausage, sweet grapes, and 'sour' grape were handed out to the visitors who took them back home and were encouraged to prepare them on their own.


The Rodopy patatnik and the bean salad of grandma Marche disappeared instantly, though their taste lasted longer.


The local wine cellars "Brestovica" and "TODOROFF" presented their produce at the festival. On their stalls they offered wine on the tap for tasting as well as bottled wine for negotiations and sale.


Text and Photos: AGORA Platform