As is the case for many small provincial cities, it’s hard for Monchegorsk to be a big cultural centre for its inhabitants. And yet the third annual Taburetka festival was organized in this northern Russian city, located near Finland, during the last summer weekend of August 2018 and allowed people of the city to experience an epicenter of world art, literature and poetry.
The city features such unusual attractions as a 3-meter-high stool, which is undoubtedly the centre of attention of any tourist and also the central object of the Taburetka festival. Ironically, “taburetka” translates as “stool” from Russian and the name of the event was chosen with a particular logic behind it.
In fact, the stool is a symbol of the first stage for children, who are invited to stand on it and read pieces of poetry, sing songs or tell stories. It’s their first interaction point with art in which they play an active role. As a result, the “stool festival” can be considered the foundation or support for everyone who would like to indulge/dive into this fantastic world.
The festival included a rich variety of educational, entertaining and cultural events with the participation of well-known European figures like German writer Hendrik Jackson and Stéphanie Rosianu, a Swiss artist from Lausanne, along with Russian movie directors, actors, artists and writers.
A considerable role in this festival was played by the Zhivaya Classica Foundation, the organizer of this remarkable event with the support of Nornickel. Their mission was to unite people of all ages, present Russian and international cultures in one place and, what was really very special about Taburetka, demonstrate the culture of the Sami people, whose nationality deserves a special introduction in this article.
The Sami people historically have lived on the territories of today’s Finland, Norway, Sweden and northern Russia. They have their own traditions, language, music, games, craft, clothing and many more self-identifying features. Even though some people may not have heard of them, Sami history officially dates back to 10,000 B.C.
Today, we can see that Scandinavian countries define and respect the Sami people and their culture by creating their special events and cultural centers and by acknowledging them officially. Russia is not falling backwards and encourages the development of the Sami people. The focus of the Taburetka festival was on the presentation of the Sami culture.
To somebody unprepared for what to expect, the festival and especially the parade might have looked like an invasion of fairy tale heroes coming from different genres of world literature.
You could witness the highest concentration of characters in one square meter ever—Sherlock Holmes carrying the tablet inviting visitors to sit on the famous stool; Pushkin wandering together with Tolstoy and Gogol (and no one cares that they may be from different centuries and not even friends) and Alice from Wonderland walking casually with Vasilisa the Beautiful, the princess from Russian Wonderland. If you think that this was a good idea, it’s too early to judge. Afterwards all of the characters turned the parade into a fashion show with a demonstration of their costumes fighting for the first places.
This outrageous, brave festival has united world-famous characters, writers, and heroes who all came live from the best classics. In fact, the preparation took approximately 6 months according to Marina Smirnova, the head of the Zhivaya Classica Foundation. She also mentioned that their objective was to create a program full of activities that would be equally interesting for all ages and generations.
The festival offered a cool mix of such activities as dancing workshops, a drawing wall, a poem competition, a literature “fight”, magic tricks and, as if all of that was not enough, a message in Morse code was sent out into our universe! Yes, you heard that right, a piece of poetry was sent in Morse code into space aiming to reach the Crux constellation 1300 years from now! Considering that many people believe in aliens and other intelligent creatures living in the universe, we may expect their answer or at least an assessment of the artistic talents from Earth in the coming centuries.
On a final note, it’s worth mentioning that the Taburetka festival is absolutely free for all participants and everyone with a costume is welcome to join the parade of characters.
So, if you are wondering what might happen next year in Monchegorsk City in August, you better watch out for news of this event and come to experience such an unusual festival yourself.
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