My name is Débora, a Portuguese young lady who recently moved to Vilani region, more precise to Obeliskas in Deksares parish. On my quest to learn more about Vilani region, its people, traditions and culture I applied to become a volunteer in the 5th year Vilani region celebrations.
The first volunteer meeting took place in the city hall where I could meet other volunteers and members of the council. The meeting was important to schedule and plan the activities taking place throughout the festivities. Each volunteer was given a task, and mine was to document the festival photographically. I was very glad that I was given the opportunity to show my point of view through images.
And so, on 9th of August, my adventure began: the Vilani region celebrations had commenced! The first day was dedicated to sport activities which were joined together by both old and young people. I was very surprised (in a good way) that the Vilani Municipality took in their own hands the good initiative to develop sport activities and they were willing to promote the idea of healthy and active lifestyle no matter the age you have. In my point of view, this is an excellent message! I especially like the photo I took of a middle age lady very well dressed playing the Croquet. This image kind of summarises the concept of this event.
The next day, the Vilani region festivities were dedicated to the usual monthly market and a special craft market. I have to admit that I adored both markets and the performance of Vilani county amateur actors and a traditional dance group which took place at 9am! Apart from the market itself I especially liked to observe the people from the region, the way they talk and the way they treat each other. As a foreigner, it’s very interesting to see similarities and differences between cultures. Although many things might be different from one culture to another, others like kindness, happiness and solidarity are intrinsic not to specific cultures but to all human beings. On this particular event I was able to experience that. An old man, maybe I could call him a Master, selling his paintings, a man playing the accordion and some people around him dancing, a traditional dance group bringing smiles to anyone who were watching, a lady on a wheelchair enjoying the market together with her beloved ones, and more and more. So, besides a market where it could be found almost anything from pigs to flowers, homemade beer, wooden baskets, bicycles, variety of fruit trees, black bread, smoked cheese and ham, handmade gloves and scarfs, vintage & retro items... you name it, they got it, the event also brings together the best that this region has to offer which is: its people.
The 16th of August were the festivities last day (at least for me, because other celebrations were happening in Sokolku parish but I couldn’t attend). It was a rainy day but that didn’t put people away from participating. The first activity took place in the Vilany stadium and it was… r-a-d-i-c-a-l!! The performance was an extreme bicycle show offered by the Green Trials Bike Tour. The guys from Green Trials were giving everyone a laugh! I guess this could have been quite a great show but due to weather conditions the exhibition was a bit spoiled. But, a very cool initiative anyway!
Next, the fun and rain continued at the Lakstigalu sala with loads of children activities such as: horse riding, face painting, theatre, and a very tasty cake to commemorate the 5th year of the region and some soft drinks for all children. The police were also involved in these activities dressed with fancy costumes and greeting everyone. This is again an excellent idea to pass to next generations, because it transmits a sense of a calm and safe community, which as a mother of two young children, made me feel secure about the place where we are living now.
The adults could enjoy two beautiful photography exhibitions: one with photos of the city in the present and the other one from the past. I especially liked the photo exhibition from the past, because I could go back in time and see how people were back then. The photo from the theatre group really grabbed my attention, because they were quite unique people.
Strange it might seem, the rain stopped around 7pm, just in time for some music and dance! The performances of groups from Belarus, Russia and others from our region until 10 pm were absolutely amazing! Many groups, many different cultures, everyone dancing together as one!
Overall, I must say this was an incredible experience. I got the chance to learn more about Latvian culture and most important I get to know the people from the region which I now call home. And, of course I must thank the Vilani Municipality for the great opportunity of becoming a volunteer in the 5th year region celebrations. To sum up, my congratulations to Vilani Region! And may everyone continue the excellent work done so far!