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Contributor, Travel and Transportation, Regions and Cities
"...What I tell you three times is true" (Lewis Carroll, "Hunting of the Snark" ).

Empty Hills-2009 in Smolensk Region: not Only Festival of Free Creativity

Empty Hills is an open-air festival of free creativity, which includes different genres of music, master-classes in various activities (dances, yoga, etc), shows and theatre performances, art objects, etc. It has been held every summer since 2003. The location is new every year, but the previous festivals took place in the Kaluga Region. The place for the last one was chosen in the Smolensk Region. People from all over Russia and other countries (Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, Germany and even from the USA and Israel) come to take part and see the festival . The festival area includes stages, camps, cafes, tea-houses. The first-aid post, toilets, info-centre, nursery, disposition of garbage, parking places and special buses are also provided. All these facilities functioned during the festivals of previous six years. This year things were all in a tumble for two main reasons, such as heavy rains with storms and the human factor. In spite of all the negative moments, it was a very important experience characterizing our society and everybody who visited the festival personally.

1. Elements: the water

The unexpected heavy rains with storms turned the roads into mud and increased the water level in the rivers so much, that two of the three bridges specially built were destroyed. The baths made downstream were also swept away. Nobody had expected the nasty weather coming when all of it had been constructed in advance.

2. People: the best is the enemy of the good enough

The habitants of the neighboring village understood that they could make use of this situation, providing transportation from the road through the fields to the fests territory. The means of transport they used was field engines with trailers. If they had not provide such a service, the fields would have been practicable. But the tractors big wheels turned the road in the fields into mud river. Some of the tractors became victims of the commercial rush; they stuck in the mud with people and equipment in the trailers. There was one more tractor action, which I can not explain. The field, supposed to be used as parking was tilled. I can only suppose that it was the last measure for becoming life-necessary with all their tractors. Maybe they did it just for pleasure.

It was something too much of this. I walked with my friend all the six or more kilometers, and many people did the same thing, because walking through the wet fields was considerably cheaper and safer, than paying money for the transportation, which could be finished with sticking in the mud.

3. Personal experience

All I have described was firstly something unexpected (in spite of the warnings that appeared on the web-site of the Empty Hills after the heavy rains) and something extreme. I have seen my friends and myself in this situation from an unexpected sight angle and really dont regret. It was an examination of our strength of will, rationality and ability to take delight in everything, in spite of the weather and its consequences. The emotions everybody had and our behavior indicated ones level of consciousness, self-consistency, responsibility and civilization. Everybody knew that there were some troubles with the Empty Hills, but many people came. After that they, including me and my friends got what they wanted: some people saw only the mud and destroyed bridges, others music, positive emotions, interesting experiences and even comfort. Yes, I was enjoying the festival. My tent was not wet through, though I pitched it simply near the forest in one of the camps without long investigations of the territory. I listened to some concerts and swam in the river. I tasted all the liqueurs and sorts of tea, and it helped me not to fall ill. The difficulties werent too serious.

4. Social contradictions

The situation with the Empty Hills gave a very interesting picture of the social groups; I dare say a face of society. The miscommunication between the city and the village, between the people with consumers psychology and the people understanding their responsibility, passive and active positions in life became obvious. All the categories named here were featured on the festival among the guests, volunteers, musicians and organizers.

All in all, Empty Hills-2009 happened instead of everything. It was worth coming and seeing it with your own eyes. It helped me and my friends and hopefully many others to understand many things we dont think about in comfortable offices and houses or simply beyond extreme situations. The weather has taught us a lesson, how to remain civilized people in a difficult situation, and many of us succeeded. To tell you the truth, I am satisfied.

Yulia Buzykina

June 16, 2009 17:47

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