The first Zemgales Storytelling festival in Latvia

The first Zemgales Storytelling festival in Latvia was organized within the framework of the Grundtvig Project „Grand-treasures” and was both local activity and fourth partner meeting in Latvia.

In total Storytelling festival brought together around 50 storytellers from different regions of Latvia and abroad as well as wide range of listeners. Participants were participants of 18 libraries of the UNESCO LNC network „Storytelling libraries”, local Storytellers and folk groups, storytelling experts from Latvia, representatives of local community and partners of Grundtvig project “Grand-treasures” from Galicia, Portugal and Estonia.


From 28 to 30 September, 2012


The first Zemgales Storytelling festival in Latvia took place in Pilsrundale, Rundale Local Municipality, Latvia.


Festival was organised by Latvian National Commission for UNESCO, Rundale Local Municipality, Pilsrundales library and support from the EU lifelong learning programme Grundtvig. Storytelling festival was organized in order to bring together storytellers from Latvia, especially from Zemgale region, and other countries. One of the objective of this festival was to integrate local community and promote oral traditions as an important part of the intangible cultural heritage. Storytelling festival lasted for three days and it was organized with a specific focus on Saint Michael day, which is celebrated in Latvia in 29th of September. There was organized a specific Michaelmas fair where participants were involved into traditional songs and play dances. 


The approach of storytelling was various, depending on the place where we were. In the first day most of the stories were told in the town hall, where a special evening for local kids was organized. Most of the stories were adapted to the youth audience and performed together with puppets and Brais workshop “How to make animals from plastic bottles”. 


In the morning of the second day of the festival activities took place around the pottery, where just baked pots were taken out (one of them was also a special “Storytelling festival pot”). 


 Together with traditional kids folk group participants and guests did played different games and shared their stories about childhood.


During the second day everyone went to the Michaelmas fair, which was the official part of the first Zemgalses Storytelling festival. Professional storytellers, representatives of the UNESCO LNC network “Storytelling libraries” and partners of the project “Grand-treasures” were performing on the stage an told stories about different regions of Latvia (in a specific dialect) and other countries as well as fantastic and funny stories about misunderstandings. Foreign guest performed in English with a translation to Latvian.


After the Michaelmas fair, all participants and interests went back to the activity place of the festival - to the guesthouse. There, sitting next to the bonfire, participants shared their stories about amazing situations about excursions. It turned out so interesting that also guests started to involve and share with their experience through their stories.  Everyone was so into the storytelling, that even after officially organized storytelling activities it didn't really stopped till the late evening. 


It was not possible to count the total amount of the stories told during all three days of the festival, but at the official storytelling parts the Storytelling festival pot was filled with beans - one bean means one story. At the end around 150 beans was counted, which means that officially around 150 stories were told.


During the storytelling festival there was a meeting for the “Storytelling libraries” network organized. In the first day libraries did presentations about their activities organized during last year concerning storytelling. Presentations were simple - as handmade posters that included information about the events they are organized, people that participated and publicity they had raised. Moreover every poster was decorated in very individual way- or with pictures or drawings or 3D objects. 


In order to improve the skills of librarians, Brais was teaching them a method how to create stories. It was not a surprise that Brais with his charisma did attract not only storytelling libraries, but also every participant of the festival and even professional storytellers did participate with a childish interest.