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5.2. Thracian heritage and urban development in Tsarevo
The festival
The festival “Strandzha, my cradle” has been named by Zlatka Stavreva and it took place in
Tsarevo, in June 2010 for the first time. This was the first festival organised by the municipality of
Tsarevo and the
Georgi Kondolov 1912
culture house, in collaboration with the Youth association of
Thracian Bulgarians. In interviews with people, who took part in organising it, it transpired that it was
a festival of the town itself, the idea behind it being to turn it into amajor cultural event for the entire
space of Strandzha. In 2011, our team had the opportunity to be present at the second edition of
the festival, which attracted many more participants; it was actively encouraged by the town mayor,
Petko Arnaudov and the Youth association of Thracian Bulgarians was not among the organisers.
The culture calendar of the municipality is packed with events but the folk festival is the
first municipal festival with national and international participants, organised in the summer
in Tsarevo. The 2
festival highlighted the regional specificity of Strandzha, but the idea that
Thracian folklore is the heritage of the refugees was not explicitly stated. One of the changes in
constructing heritage after 1989 concerns festivals. In socialist times, such an event in Michurin,
was the three-day folk fest of groups
from the Strandzha mountain and the region, which took
place at the town stadium. Currently, all villages in the municipality and in the district have their
own festival, which, in the opinion of many interlocutors, devalues the quality of performance
because festivals are competitive and offer awards for the winners.
Project culture and ‘Thracian’ successors
Even though these events are validated through the Strandzha ‘folk heritage’, this is one
of the forms of project culture aiming at local development, attracting tourists and creating a
continuous list of events for the summer season advertised by tourist agents. This strategy of
converting symbolic into economic capital is characteristic of the descendants of Thracians, who
are the majority in this area and are still organised in associations, pensioners’ clubs and groups
affiliated to the culture houses. Mixing up project culture and the institutional infrastructure
of culture inherited from the socialist period has resulted in the Festival, which embraces the
traditional village fests, the church celebrations, the dances on fire,
the days dedicated to the
arts or to the oak honeydew honey, or the periwinkle, etc.
On the other hand, festivals are a form
of local government because no festival can exist if not supported by the municipality; thus, each
festival is a legitimising resource of local government.
From such a perspective it can be maintained that Tsarevo no longer needs a Thracian
festival because the descendants are the majority. On the other hand, there is no need for the
town to be legitimised nationally as the Strandzha heritage is present in their urban culture. Apart
64 From an interview with Irina Kiriazova, an honorary citizen of Tsarevo, a descendant of Thracians and a many-
year official at the Culture department at the municipality. In the archive of the IEFSEM, BAS.
65 The power struggle for the trademark ‘dances on fire’ [
] includes registering festivals in several
villages in Strandzha.
66 More details on constructing a ‘trademark’ in the Tsarevo area and the Strandzha region are available in
Krastanova 2011.