Two days of the month of July are devoted to the celebration of cherries which are associated with Kyustendil’s reputation as the Fruit Garden of Bulgaria. Celebrating the fruit orchards started in the town of Kyustendil in 1896 when the first national fruit growing exhibition was founded and the city proudly received the title “Mother of the Bulgarian Fruit Gardens”.
The celebration includes exhibitions of various sorts of cherries, which were produced in the Institute of Agriculture in Kyustendil and by the cultivation of agriculture growers in the region.
Cherries, chosen by God, loved by the forest fairies, and marked with the sign of sanctity, are a symbol of good. They are the harbingers of summer, the door which leads to a rich harvest and much success for Kyustendil fruit gardens. Here cherries are planted according to the customs and culture of the population. The cherries have been preserved and cared for with love, with hope for prosperity, surrounded by rituals and native poetic spirit. For the people of Kyustendil a single cherry gives birth to many families and generations of cherries according to the text of a famous Bulgarian folk song “Chereshchitsa rod rodila”…
Even Pliny the Elder announced that Roman gardeners had tried to graft cherries onto the Laurel crown in order to make it more precious. This refers to the royal charm of cherries by which even glorious General Lucius Licinius crowned the joy of his victories. The aesthetic of the cherry blossom turned toward the sun is full of mystic depth. The cherries are a symbol and decoration of aristocracy and diplomacy in every society. The cherry is one of the renowned symbols of Kyustendil.
At the “Cherry Festival” life simply turns into a bow of cherries.
The first stage goes by the title – “The Cherry Crafts”. Dozens of tradesmen from the whole country arrange their products in the City Garden. They exhibit their products as art, devoted to the cherry: dolls, jewelry, sculptures, icons and various authentic products are expertly produced from skilled hands of artists and tradesmen.
Parallel to this is the folklore holiday “A little cherry gives birth to many families of cherries” (“Chereshchitsa rod rodila”). A rich artistic program made up of groups, dance ensembles and individual singers presents the magic of the cherry and its influence on Bulgarian folklore.
The focus of the festival is a competitive exhibition, which involves community centers, NGOs, associations, schools and kindergartens from Kyustendil region. Display tables are arranged and covered with this bright and tasty fruit – arranged and skillfully knitted veshala. The exhibition tables are arranged and covered with this bright and tasty fruit and “veshela” are expertly woven and displayed. “Veshela” are made from weaving cherries and their stems around thin tree branches to form a thick display in the shape of a hook.
Each year, the Municipality partners with the Institute of Agriculture – Kyustendil, which represents the diversity and novelty in cherry growing in the Kyustendil region. The director of the Institute is Prof. Doctor Dimitar Domozetov, Chairman of the evaluation of participants in the exhibition.
The Cherry Festival ends with a rich artistic program. The winners of the best and most attractive exhibitions are chosen and the cherries are distributed and eaten.