Volnoe Delo Foundation


Project manager

Anton Getman


Natalia Shumilkina

On October 22-24 Ust-Labinsk hosted the country's largest festival of the traditional Cossack culture «Aleksandrovskaya Fortress».

The festival program included more than a hundred events, including musical performances, fairs, lectures and master classes. They covered folklore, singing, culinary and craft traditions and gave everyone the opportunity to get acquainted with the history of the Cossacks and immerse themselves in a real Cossack life.

On Friday, October 22, the festival opened with festive processions with songs and dances on the streets of Ust-Labinsk. The city center turned into an interactive music venue - the best folk ensembles of the Krasnodar Territory performed on squares and crossroads. Especially for the festival, the popular ensemble "Krinitsa" brought a program of traditional Cossack songs to Ust-Labinsk and held an open concert in the city park.

For the weekend - October 23 and 24 - the festival moved to Argatov, a farm with a rich Cossack history, where guests had the opportunity to hear old songs and sing them along with professional performers, as well as get acquainted with Cossack rituals, among which - seeing off to the service, preparing dowry and the ransom of the bride. The Kuban Cossack army demonstrated at the festival the art of using a saber, and at the exhibition of historical Cossack weapons one could see 200-year-old sabers and daggers used in battles.

The lecture hall of the festival brought together the best specialists in the history and culture of the Cossacks. They talked about oral and song folklore, holidays, rituals, customs and dialects. In the craft workshops, guests could learn how to work on a potter's wheel, weave folk patterns, forge horseshoes and make traditional dolls from straw. A special game program of traditional Cossack fun was prepared for children.

One of the main events of the festival was a gastronomic fair curated by Andrey Matyukha, the best chef in the South of Russia and winner of many international culinary tournaments. Andrey invited visitors to try traditional Cossack cuisine in a modern interpretation, held a series of master classes on cooking healthy food from local products, and even competed with Argatov's hostesses in cooking borscht, pies and dumplings. And Svyatoslav Kasavchenko, a specialist in Kuban cuisine, commented on this tournament and spoke about the historical features of the Cossack feasts.

The festival has become the final event of the Alexandrovskaya Fortress traditional Cossack song contest, which has been held by the Volnoe Delo Foundation since 2020. The competition is held to preserve and recreate the traditional Cossack song, this year more than 200 applications have been received from all over the South of Russia. The final chord of the festival was a gala concert in which the winners of the competition and guest stars took part.

Star Project was responsible for organizing and running the event on a turnkey basis.

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