Top Pick: European Folk Art - Festival of Obsolescent Historical Crafts

Craftsmen from all over Slovakia and some European countries (including Poland, the Czech Republic, Latvia and Italy) will gather in the historical centre of northern Slovakia's Kežmarok for the three-day European Folk Art festival. Blacksmiths, wood carvers, weavers, ginger-bread makers, goldsmiths, shoemakers and stonecutters will demonstrate the step-by-step processes they employ in creating their traditional handicrafts.
The festival, now in its 11th year, will open at 13:00 on Friday, July 13, with a theatrical fencer's show in which the swordsmen will attempt to gain access to the town centre's Hlavné námestie (Main Square) and Hradné námestie (Castle Square), where the more than 200 skilled craftsmen will be situated.


Mária Katušová, who makes dolls from cornhusks, is one of the Folk Art Festival's founders.
photo: Courtesy Mária Katušová

Craftsmen from all over Slovakia and some European countries (including Poland, the Czech Republic, Latvia and Italy) will gather in the historical centre of northern Slovakia's Kežmarok for the three-day European Folk Art festival. Blacksmiths, wood carvers, weavers, ginger-bread makers, goldsmiths, shoemakers and stonecutters will demonstrate the step-by-step processes they employ in creating their traditional handicrafts.

The festival, now in its 11th year, will open at 13:00 on Friday, July 13, with a theatrical fencer's show in which the swordsmen will attempt to gain access to the town centre's Hlavné námestie (Main Square) and Hradné námestie (Castle Square), where the more than 200 skilled craftsmen will be situated.

Sixty-year old Slovak Mária Katušová, one of the founders of the festival and a featured exhibitor, has been making dolls out of cornhusks for more than 20 years. Every October, Katušová cruises corn fields to collect around 20 large sacks of the husks, providing material for the whole year. She then washes and dries them before transforming the husks into 35-centimetre long dolls.

"I like creating natural things with my bare hands," she said, adding that her technique is fading away. "The young generations have no interest in learning this because you can't do it for money."

The festival takes place in Kežmarok, a town near the High Tatras mountain range which was once an important trading point, joining routes from the Orient to Baltic countries. During the 15th and 19th century, the town had 36 guilds - medieval associations of craftsmen or merchants.

The festival will be accompanied by music performed by local and foreign bands, and shows performed by the Slovak Vranovské stilt theatre. Moreover, a cheese market in the castle's courtyard will offer cheese specialities from home and abroad.

For more information on the festival visit: www.kezmarok.sk (click the E1/4RO box on the left-hand side), or call tel: 052/452 2624. To learn more about Mária Katušová visit: www.folk-art.sk

By Zuzana Habšudová

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