Fairs, festivals, carnivals and galas

We just had the second of our village fairs this year and it was a great success.
The very first such event was back in about 1995 and was organized by our village head. It too was a moderate success. At the time there were very few Europeans living in or around the village and my photos from the time show us two and a Dutch girl as the only Europeans present. It was probably the lack of foreigners that brought out the villagers perhaps about half of the population attended, say a couple of hundred.
At that time Frau and I had one of those black nomad tents woven from goat hair and we decided to take that, set it up as a small gift shop and sell the trinkets that the Cloggie and Die Frau knocked up for the occasional tourist who had discovered the village. On the morning of the event we gathered all our stuff together and loaded up the pickup, but just before departing for the venue I suggested that we take the charcoal-fired tea-making apparatus with us to supply a continuous stream of tea. I think we must have taken a supply of plastic cups, too.
We set up our tent in the middle of the field, spread a few rugs around and so became the centre for subsequent music, dancing, socializing and (very limited)ommerce. The music was provided by one of those and”gypsyand” bands that seem to have the ability to smell any form of celebration from a great distance and beam themselves there. The event was about as successful as a church garden party in a small English village, but we thought that it would be something to build on.
Unfortunately, nobody took the initiative to build on it and for the following few years there was no such event. Then came the big oneandhellip
It was never clear to us quite who organized the big festival of 2003, but several Turkish universities were involved, at least one Greek university and there was some European Union money behind it. In the field, as it were, young students were the movers. One day a small group of the students came to our house to ask for copies of the map of the valley that we had made they explained that 10 days later a music and arts festival would start.
I asked whether they had enough contributors, bands or choirs or whatever. They said that actually they were rather short. Well, our guests at the time happened to be musicians they both played the African thumb piano or and”kalimba,and” one treble and one bass, I offered their service, and it was accepted. It was decided that I would join them on my one-string tea-chest bass. As the event neared, fields full of tents sprang up and youngsters carrying guitars could be seen having meetings in the teahouse. A day or two before the start of the event our kalimba players asked if there would be a microphone and a jack-plug leading to an amplifier. I very much doubted it, but told them I would investigate.
I actually drew the jack-plug to help me question the students and I drove to the teahouse to put my questions. The students chuckled and suggested that I go and visit the field. What I saw when I arrived was a stage comparable to that at Woodstock, with speaker stacks worthy of The Who. In a nearby tent were mixer desks the size of billiard tables and hirsute young sound engineers wearing serious-looking headphones while they twiddled with knobs and dials and smoked roll-ups. This thing was getting serious!
I think the affair was billed as a and”Music and Culture Festivaland” and was to be of five daysand’ duration. Well, to put it mildly, it was a huge success, with people coming from our nearest town and far beyond. This time the entire population of the village attended. There were numerous bands and choirs from both Greece and Turkey and we heard and enjoyed a fine selection of music.
A particularly moving session occurred when a Greek band played a selection of folk music and rebetika songs, many of which were known to their Turkish friends. The Greeks sang along in their language and the Turks in theirs. The rebetika, with its association with subculture was particularly appealing to the more hairy of the Turkish musicians and those sound engineers with their roll-ups. Then the band played a few dance tunes, also well known on both sides of the Aegean, and this time it was the dancing that brought together both the nationalities.
Such was the diversity of the music that something of a punk band took the stage one evening and it greatly amused Frau and me to see the local ladies dressed in their baggy pants and traditional headscarves, clapping to the rhythm of the thrashing guitars. What was not heard, however, was a single note from a kalimba our poor tourist musicians had their spot taken by the wonderful band Baba Zula!
The following year was, in our opinion, a failure. Rather than have a festival for and involving the local people, a large sum of money was spent on one famous Turkish singer and his small band. They played a two-hour concert, then everyone went home, and that was that.
There followed a period of about five years with no festivals whatsoever, but eventually small groups of foreigners started organizing one-day craft and food fairs at which locals and Europeans could display and sell their products, be they homemade jams, cakes, jewelry or paintings. These could be said to have been very successful, but we were disappointed to see that very few of our villagers were selling their produce. Several sell their homegrown fruit at the roadside all summer but not at these fairs. Perhaps they think that they are organized only for tourists and Europeans?
Also last year a couple of Facebook groups staged what was announced to be a picnic, the actual purpose of which was to protest against a planned development project. That too was a minor success with very little music except for the anthem adopted by the groups, Joni Mitchelland’s and”Big Yellow Taxiand” with its key line and”You donand’t know what youand’ve got till itand’s gone.and” The numbers attending were boosted by about 2 percent in the form of four undercover police and four uniformed Jandarma.
So, the first event of this year was aertised as a kite-flying festival and gala, and was attended by perhaps a total of 4,000 people but a maximum of about 2,500 at one time. I was skeptical about the kite flying, but I estimate that maybe 30 or so kites took to the sky and created a wonderful photo opportunity. Frau and I had found a kite a year or two back and took it along to give to a child. Yes, kite flying is fun but not in a crowd, especially when having a few glasses of wine in your tum.
Which brings us to this weekand’s do again it was billed as a music and crafts fair and was again a success. This time the music was limited to just a couple of bands and they were very good indeed (if a little loud for those of us sitting in the same restaurant as the band were performing in). Again, we were disappointed to see none of our local villagers among the attendees the only Turkish people with stalls seemed to be incomers and not villagers. What happened to all those people who had clapped along to the punk band all those years ago? Perhaps the organizers might make more of an effort to encourage local participation in the future.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman