Traditional cultural fair goes private

  • 2002-03-07
  • Rokas M. Tracevskis
VILNIUS - Vilnius Old Town was as usual taken over by the Kaziukas fair March 1-3, but this was the first Kaziukas organized by a private person rather than the municipality.

Vilnius Mayor Arturas Zuokas gave the task of organizing the fair to Vytenis Urba, owner of Marceliutis Kletis, a popular Vilnius restaurant serving traditional Lithuanian fair.

A former basketball player with the Vilnius Statyba team, Urba is known for his enthusiasm for such fairs and his collection of early 20th century agricultural technology.

He claims he is not in it for the money but for the warm atmosphere created by the thousands of people who dance, drink, sing and hunt for their favorite Lithuanian knick-knacks.

"I plan to spend 60,000 litas ($15,000) on building temporary toilets, a stage for musicians, wooden buildings for temporary restaurants and street cleaning after the fair," said Urba.

"All I hope for is to earn that same 60,000 litas back."

The municipality was only too glad to have someone take the fair off its hands.

"Every year Vilnius municipality was spending 30,000 litas on clearing rubbish from the Old Town's streets and other work related to Kaziukas. Now we'll save our money and time," said Algimantas Vakarinas, Vilnius deputy mayor.

Where traders had to pay the municipality 10 litas to set up shop in previous years, this year Urba asked 30 litas.

But this proved no deterrent and there were no street protests outside Marceluitis Kletis.

All 600 licenses were sold a week before the fair and this year its territory expanded to include Vokieciu Street as well as Rotuses Square and Pilies and Didzioji streets.

For the first time live animals were on sale as well as the usual wooden cutlery, whistles, angels and dried flower arrangements on sticks known as Verbos.

Zemaitukas horses, a small but strong traditional Lithuanian breed, were on sale at 10,000 litas each, sheep were going for 500 litas, goats 300 litas, and geese for 35 litas, but sadly there were no buyers.

Kaziukas fair is devoted to Lithuania's patron saint, Casimir, a member of Lithuania's royal family who was beatified in 1602.