Author:
Marit Külv

Field trips

On the field trip day, all participants have a chance to visit one area with distinct heritage culture. This year, two coffee breaks and lunch are included in all the trip fees. If you wish to have a day off, wander around in Viljandi or surroundings, you can choose not to participate in the field trip offered by the organisers of the camp. However, the field trips include visiting small enterprises, local craftsmen and rural places which are not always open for tourists to visit.
Tõstamaa trip didn't meet the minimum number of participants by the beginning of March - this trip is cancelled!

Tip! If viewing the descriptions of field trips, click on the photos in order to see them in full size.

Mulgimaa is an area in South Estonia that includes 5 historical parishes. They each have their own dialect, folk culture and local cuisine. The heritage culture and folk costumes of this region have preserved older characteristics as compared to their neighbours in Northern Viljandi county. The area was populated by intellectuals and successful farmers in the 20th century and the wealth of the region was based mostly on growing and selling flax. Mulgi people are believed to be clever and entrepreneurial, which helped them to become free from servitude and become rightful farm-owners. Mulgi people have believed that real fortune should not be displayed around the neck, but invested into education and property.

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Mulgi folk costume items on a table.

The day will begin with a lecture about Mulgi folk costumes by Tiina Jürgen, the leading expert in the field and author of the thorough book “Mulgi Folk Costumes”. The lecture will be held at Viljandi Museum and translated from Estonian to English. Among the old-fashioned garments, those used the longest in Mulgimaa by women were blouses with a primitive pattern, unsewn skirts, kerchiefs, aprons and hip-aprons with archaic ornamentation, and linen and woollen wraps; and by men, shirts with breast pockets and long trousers with special patterns. Old-fashioned stockings with wide calves and nålbinded mittens were used in Mulgimaa for a long time. The Mulgi people are best known for their long coats - Mulgi coats. You will hear about these and many more items in the lecture. Some of the smaller textile items from Viljandi Museum’s collection will be exhibited. The first coffee break will be held alongside the lecture.

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Dolls with Mulgi folk costumes on the exhibition.

The bus will take you to a unique Mulgi Experience Centre which opened its doors in the spring of 2023. The centre is located in Sooglemäe farm and introduces Mulgimaa and Mulgi culture. During the visit to the centre, we will get answers to the questions: who are Mulgi people, what is a proper Mulgi farm, can one be born or made into a Mulk, how Mulks changed world history, who are famous people from the area and much more. Lunch will be held at the Experience Centre which offers traditional Mulgi food.

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Flax bundles after combing.

The day will take you from cultural history to practical flax processing. We will go to Lilli Nature Centre to explore flax fibre even further. After a short introduction of the Nature Centre and flax, each participant can process a small bunch of flax plants with old-fashioned tools. Retted flax plants will turn into fibre and thread. At the end of this visit, there will be a coffee break which includes local herb teas and snacks.

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Heimtali Museum of Domestic Life with a fence, decorated with mitten drawings.

The final stop will be at the Heimtali Museum of Domestic Life which is known for its rich textile collection. The collections will be partially introduced by Anu Raud, the establisher of the museum. At the end of Heimtali visit, Anu Raud will give an overview of her work as a textile artist at her farm, located a short walk away from the museum.

Mulgimaa trip includes relatively short bus rides and is suitable for people who can't stand long bus trips. The main keywords of the day are Mulgi culture, history and heritage, folk costumes, textiles and flax processing.

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Route of Mulgimaa trip

Soomaa’s most distinctive feature is what the inhabitants of the local villages refer to as the ‘fifth season’ - the high water season early in the spring. Soomaa - meaning “the land of bogs” is located on the western slopes of the Sakala Uplands, and in spring the surrounding rivers overflow the area. During the high water period, the landscape is accessible primarily via canoe, kayak or a traditional dugout canoe. The 70 people who live permanently within the national park boundaries have learned to cope with the annual deluge. Soomaa National Park is the largest and best-preserved peat bog system in Europe. Harsh natural conditions have helped to preserve other aspects of cultural heritage as well.

The first stop will be at Kaansoo village, Metsaõue farm where Indrek and Anna Vainu live. Indrek is our guide for the day. He organises an annual Forest Singing Festival in Soomaa, dedicated mostly to runic songs. Anna Vainu is a folk singer and ceramic artist. They will introduce their lifestyle and off-grid homestead where they live in unison with nature. Anna will give an overview of her clay processing methods and designs. A short workshop on ‘Wild clay‘ will be held. You can see how local clay is processed into ceramic items. The practical part includes preparation of the clay and handbuilding, the focus being on the process, cognitive and sensory realisations, without firing nor glazing the items later. This workshop gives an understanding of simple and universal techniques, applicable without the need for transportation, electricity and machinery.

The next stop will be at Tohera village, visiting local craft masters and heritage keepers, Aivar Ruukel and Juta Pertel. Soomaa is a part of Pärnu and Viljandi counties, including Saarde, Pärnu, Tori, Vändra, Suure-Jaani and Kõpu parishes. Juta will give an insight into Soomaa's textile heritage, focusing on Tori folk costumes and examples of women's and men's costume sets. Lunch will include some local dishes and will be made by Juta.

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A lecture about dugout canoes at Soomaa.

Aivar will talk about the cornerstone of Soomaa's identity - dugout canoe. Aivar is one of only five Estonians who still retain the skill of making dugout canoe, haabjas. The spring deluges have helped to preserve the craft in spite of modern culture striking in. Building a dugout canoe requires a nearly 80-year old straight trunk of an aspen. Aspen is a soft wood and a trunk can be expanded with the help of fire and hot water. Nowadays, the dugout is considered as the guardian of local identity, a symbol of the place and a community-builder.

The trip continues with an unique opportunity to cross over the Navesti river in a dugout canoe. We highly recommend trying it out, however, it's also possible to drive to the Riisa bog by bus. A true experience of Soomaa includes being in nature. The hike will be a bit more than 1 km long, running along comfortable wooden tracks. If the weather is good, it’s possible to to go swim there. During the hike, you can see wetland as well as the forest turning into a bog and vice versa. The canoe trip and hike at Riisa bog will be led by Indrek Vainu.

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People hiking in a bog.

The Soomaa trip includes relatively short bus rides and has the most relaxed programme. This is the most nature-related trip, including more walking and physical activities, compared to other field trips. We advise you to dress comfortably and wear footwear suitable for a bog hike (on a wooden trail). The main keywords of the day are dugout canoes, folk costumes, clay, ceramics, nature, bogs, heritage.

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Soomaa trip on a map
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Diatonic harmonica.

Vana-Võromaa (Old Võro County) is an ancient cultural area in South (East) Estonia where people speak Võro language and keep alive several old traditions. One of the main slogans for Võro people is “Aigu om!” - “There is time!” - there is much less hurrying than in a city environment. Each Saturday, people take half a day to heat up and enjoy sauna, many of which are still traditional smoke saunas without chimneys. Võromaa is mostly a rural area, even the homesteads are scattered all around the fields and forests. Vana-Võromaa consists of 8 parishes which have unique folk costumes, variations in language and other folk traditions. Võro people are also proud of their folk music traditions - diatonic button accordion is still a popular instrument among the folk musicians and several outstanding accordion makers have lived in Võromaa.

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Süvahavva wool mill, processing wool

We will start the day at Süvahavva Wool Mill. The wool mill was established in 1915 and is still fully operational. You can see and hear about the machinery and processes performed in the wool mill - starting from separating washed wool up to a ready-made yarn. In addition to yarn-making, the yarn is dyed with natural dyes and made into various products on the farm. These products can be purchased from a small shop.The first coffee break will be held there.

The next stop will be at the Vana-Võromaa Handicraft Centre. The leader of the Vana-Võromaa Handicraft Union, Vilve Oja will give a lecture about Võromaa folk costumes and Külli Eichenbaum from the Võro Institute will speak about Võro culture, language, smoke sauna and other traditions characteristic to the area. Lunch will be held nearby, at Steding Cafe.

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Wooden spoons

Nature in Võromaa is rich in various natural resources, such as wood and clay. The trip will take you to a woodworking master, Urmas Štubis, who lives and works in Sulbi. He is a self-taught master who makes mostly utensils and other small commodities; his favourite items are round in shape or have a naturally interesting shape. Urmas also restores old craft items. We will visit his workshop and material storage room with a small shop corner.

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Pottery drying

The final stop will be at Tsooru Pottery Factory. It’s known as the only company in the world to produce traditional “seto pots”, a specific type of bowl. The factory was established in the beginning of the 20th century and is still preserving and using much of the original and Soviet-era equipment hand-in-hand with old pottery production technologies. They also use big historical stoves for firing pottery. All clay used is locally sourced from South Estonia. The journey to revive the craft of making “seto pots” began in 2009 - you can hear about this journey and see the factory during this stop. You’ll have a coffee break there and a chance to buy some unique pottery.

This field trip is suitable for people who can stand longer bus trips (almost 2-hour ride to Võromaa and back). The trip goes through rural areas. The main themes of the trip are: local craft and cultural heritage, Võromaa folk costumes, wool processing, woodworking and pottery.

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Võromaa field trip route

 

Tõstamaa and the surrounding areas are a good representation of Estonian coastal culture, enriched by the heritage crafts. The nature is notably different from South and East Estonia, including coastal meadows, rocky coastline and islands. The folk costumes and traditions were preserved relatively long in the area, especially by the women who didn't travel around very much. The inhabitants of the local community have always valued their dual identity inherited from their peasant and sailor ancestors.

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People are being introduced different looms for weaving.

The trip begins with the visit of IIDA Weaving Museum and Craft School in Kirikumõisa village. The museum preserves special looms, hand-woven fabrics, weaving and handicraft books, and other such manuscripts from Estonia. The museum is established and run by a weaving master Eva-Liisa Kriis.

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People in Tõstamaa Handicraft Centre, presentation in being held.

The trip continues to Tõstamaa Craft Centre where local handicraft from the past and the situation nowadays will be introduced. The facilities include ceramics, weaving, knitting, etc crafts. The local knitters are specially known for their in-lay knitting (roosimine) technique - you can see the knitters working. The other half of this visit will be dedicated to bobbin lace from Pärnu county and Kihnu island. Craft master Birgit Pere will show her work in progress, ready-made items and talk about traditions such as the revival of local bobbin lace techniques. A coffee break will be held in the craft centre. In the summer period, a local craft shop is open nearby as well, you can take a short walk to the shop. Lunch will be held at Ermistu Võrgukuur.

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Shearing a sheep

The last third of the day will be spent on Manija island. The bus will take the group to Munalaid harbour and the journey will continue by boat. On Manija, you’ll have a chance to drive with a truck or have a short walk to meet a local sheep farmer Anneli Ärmpalu-Ivand. She is promoting the traditional lifestyle and local sheep breed, Kihnu Native sheep. Anneli will talk about sheep breeding, farming and fleece. The participants can see and try shearing a sheep. There is a small shop selling yarn and other products from the sheep.

The tour will be guided by a local handicraft promotor and craft master Anu Randmaa. This field trip is suitable for people who can stand longer bus trips, also a boat and a truck trip. The main themes of the trip are local textile handicraft, bobbin lace, rural cultural heritage and sheep farming.

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Tõstamaa field trip route.
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