The July 2016 edition of the monthly exchange letters between IFBF and AKKOR (the Russian Private Farmers Organization).  IFBF and AKKOR have been sharing exchange letters and articles between Iowa farmers and Russian farmers since 2012 in an attempt to increase our understanding of each other and as a part of our "citizen diplomacy" efforts. 

Dear Iowa farmers!

We all know that farmers’ work is hard. We know that rural life can be far away from entertainment centers/ But we also know that rural life can be very colorful and very inspiring.

One such inspiring event took place in a Russian province of Vologda earlier this summer.

Vologda region is located in the northwestern corner of Russia. It’s population is 1,2 million people. One third of the area is agricultural.

The area is mostly know for the ancient monasteries and beautiful Vologda lace and flax textile. But its most priced position is the Vologda butter. It was the first butter factory in the whole country of Russia and was opened in 1871. Ask anybody in Russia and they will know of Vologda butter. Its nutty taste made it world famous.

But if you work hard, - sometimes you want to play too!

The 3-rd Interregional Folklore Festival was held in this traditions- and history-filled area. The main idea behind such folklore festivals was to try and preserve the history, culture and traditions of different areas in Russia.

Usually such festivals are limited to one district (= county) just because it is easier to bring more events and attract more people to participate and to watch.

Russia is famous for its folklore groups. In 2016, 39 different groups came to showcase their talents and dazzle the audience with the beautiful costumes. Twenty one of them represented the host region, - Vologda, and nineteen came from other parts of Russia. In addition to singing and dancing groups there were also folk craft shows, master classes, and demonstrations.

The total number of participants was over 500.

Much fun people had enjoying folklore groups from Moscow and St. Petersburg. While Moscovites were wonderful in singing, their counterparts from St. Petesburg did something different: they studied old costumes that were in museum collections and made “replicas” of those beautiful outfits to show on the runway right on the city square.

The following day was devoted to old games and contests out on the bank of a picturesque lake. Group “circle” dances included a few hundred people. Children were engaged in old games that are almost forgotten these days. A street market attracted buyers from all over the area who were in lines to buy local produce and try blinys (pancakes) with that famous Vologda butter and honey.

Another good attractions were wood cutting contest, old style fist fights (no blood!!!). There were even water boarding contests for different age groups!

But the colorful Fire Show under the stars stole the show!

The third day was devoted to the revival of an old village festival where the participants were exposed to ages-long traditions that are fading away.

Wherever you looked, - you saw color! A lot of color! Predominant color? Of course, RED! Because RED meant “beautiful” in the Old Russian language. Just look at the picture at the beginning of this letter and you will see!

What you cannot see in that picture is a beautiful beginning of the third day. It started with a special church service at the Church of Nicholas, the Miracle Worker, who is the most cherished Saint in the Russian Orthodox Church.

We truly believe that this festival will become the symbol of Russia’s countryside revival, an event that brings together more than 1000-years of ancient spiritual and cultural traditions!

We also witnessed that this event brought closer together the younger generation and their fathers’ and grandfathers’ generations. It helps us keep and preserve our culture and showcase our work on the land.

With the best wishes to you and your families,

AKKOR farmers