On Saturday 7 January Voknavolok /Vuokkiniemi and Kostomuksha celebrated the opening of the year as the Finno-Ugric Capital of Culture in a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
Local ensembles Kataja and Vuokkiniemi Martat performed the best of traditional Karelian songs and lyrics.
A show group with songs and talks from the Udmurtian village Bygy, the first Capital of Culture in 2014, paid a courtesy call. Bygy had received more than 4 000 guests during the year, a highly respectable number for a tiny little village.
Welcoming addresses were delivered by eminent representatives from Karelia and Russia: Ms Anna Bendikova, Director, Kostomuksha Administrative District; Ms Tatjana Kleerova, Chair, the Congress of the Karelians of the Republic of Karelia and the Consultative Committee of the World Congress of the Finno-Ugric peoples; Ms Aleksandra Jershova, Vice-Minister, the Ministry of the Republic of Karelia for National Politics, Relations with Public and Religious Associations and Mass Media; and Mr Andrey Petrov, Chair of the MAFUN in Saint-Petersburg and Leningrad region. Greetings from the Finnish Karelian Cultural Society were given by Ms Eeva-Kaisa Linna, Chair and Mr Pekka Vaara, Vice-chair.
The Vuokkiniemi Village House was full of celebrating villagers, eager to learn about the successes and benefits the title as the Capital of Culture might bring to the region. Ready to cooperate, villagers believe in positive development and prosperity.
A second part of the celebrations took place at the Kostomuksha Cultural Centre “Friendship”. The programme was addressing the Kostamuksha residents, bringing to the large audience a multicultural spectrum of performances, through Ukrainian songs for the New Year and Russian music and dances seasoned with kantele music and traditional Karelian songs by the local ensemble Karelian Gornitsha.
Extremely skilled and joyful young performers took the hearts of the audience with their songs and dances.
The representatives of the Youth Parliament of the Republic of Karelia managed to make their long way to Viena Karelia and announced in their speech to organise seminars and youth camps in Vuokkiniemi this coming summer.
Mr Dmitrij Ushakov, Human Resource Manager, Kostomuksha Ore Mines, congratulated and promised their support to the village of Vuokkiniemi. Similar pledges of support were given by several parties.
The Cultural Year intends to popularise the Karelian culture. Youth should get interested in the heritage of their ancestors and this is the responsibility of all those who still master the Karelian language and know the culture.
Much of this work is done by the Vuokkiniemi families, teachers at the school and in specific Ms Valentina Dmitrieva who teaches the Karelian language in small groups, not to forget the Kataja ensemble.
The Year as the Capital of Culture is not only celebrating and praznieks in Vuokkiniemi but most of all support to sustainable development to the village and surrounding region covering old rune villages of Voinnitsa, Cudnozero, Uhta and Juškozero. Financial prosperity is expected to be brought by national and international visitors to the area including Kostomuksha entrepreneurs.