Record numbers turn out at Latvian Applied Folk Arts Fair

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On June 1 and 2, the 49th Latvian Folk Applied Arts Fair took place at the Ethnographic Open Air Museum of Latvia. It was estimated that the fair attracted around 40 000 visitors. The number of participants has also grown to 750, a new record, comprised of craftsmen, food vendors, and caterers, whose produce has been rigorously appraised for quality.

“We already decided a long time ago that we will not expand the fair. But every year we are forced to take in new participants because their work is so good,” said Daina Kraukle, the head of the museum's Collection department. 

This year, the focus was on craftsmen using traditional methods. The demand for classics, such as wickerwork, metalwork, ceramics, folk blankets, girdles, and gloves is on the increase.

“We want to have both tradition and quality. Maybe even a bit of modernity, but mostly quality rooted in tradition,” emphasized Igors Ziemelis, the head of the museum's Information and Education department.

At least 20 tourist groups visited this year's fair. 

The director of the applied arts workshop “Kursa” Ilma Rubene and her husband Edmunds Rubenis, who have been participating in the fair for many years already, observed that the feel of the event has subtly changed over the years since it started and the number of participants was relatively small.

“In the past, this was an applied arts workshop fair. That was how it began. Now it has changed. Not for the worst, of course. It's just that it has become very big and there are individual artisans, who weren't there before,” said Ilma Rubenis.

Craftsmen who were not represented in the fair due to their working with more modern materials and means of production will take part in the Contemporary Crafts Festival in August.




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