Hightlights from the Olive Festival in Zeytinlik/Kyrenia
By Heidi Trautmann
The Olive Festival in Zeytinlik is the last one in a row of many village and traditional festivals. During the festival days, local olive growers wet their appetite for the approaching harvest, eat and drink, discuss weather conditions, and wait in hope for some good rain to fall before they start to pick the olives and rush them to the mills. They say that to minimise the acid content, the olives should reach the mill within a maximum of two days. The green olives have already started to be harvested for preserving and pickling, as I could see on many stands in the Belediye Square in Zeytinlik where the festivities take place.
It is the 8th anniversary of the festival and each year there are new activities from cooking contests to contests which have nothing to do with olives but are to entertain young and old, darts tournaments, hunting and shooting competition (perhaps olives are shot down!) chess tournaments, etc.
Dancing legs and shuffling feet on the stage in the village centre, folk dances executed perfectly by the very young ones, folk dances performed by all age groups, and by the invited groups from Poland, Hungary and the Netherlands with their wooden clogs, and one evening the Cyprus Liners with their exciting rhythmic leg work. It was Zeytinlik/Kyrenia in a swinging mood, with the hits of the decade: the salsa and the tango, couples dancing complicated figures while on the stands around meat is grilled and the smoke gets in your eyes.
Another highlight was the Italian Silent Theatre with their performance, “Like Angels from Heaven”. People were thrilled by their performance.
On Sunday afternoon I saw our Children for the Environment from Catalköy with a short sketch “Away with Plastic bags” and later, at their own stand where they were painting cotton bags with a design of an olive twig. They were surrounded by many people waiting patiently for another cotton bag to be finished. It was a great success for them and a welcome support for all the effort they put into this project. (See separate article in my website).
Next to the children’s stand I was welcomed by Ali Nesim signing his new book in Turkish and English “Templos – Social Life and Culture of Zeytinlik” in which he included many photos of the area and my review which I once wrote on another Zeytinlik book. He is a true Man from Templos and under this title I interviewed him in 2005. (See separate article in my website).
In the big art exhibition tent I finally saw this year’s International Cartoon Contest, in which the first three prize winners plus the special prize winners were displayed and were well worth a detailed scrutiny. It was organized by the North Cyprus Cartoon Association with Musa Kayra, the Association’s President present who also exhibited some very beautiful photos. He gave me the new cartoon album with the results of last year’s contest; a very nice book. (see separate article in my website).
All these books can be obtained at local bookstores.
There were some good paintings exhibited on the traditional way of picking olives, in pointillist technique by Ali Erol Soytaç.
But finally, what really was welcome and appreciated by both young and old, was a Turkish artist, a sculptor by the name of Ekin Erman from Izmir who not only worked with children of all ages on a long table forming clay figures and forms with their hands, but had – in a separate tent – an exhibition of his own. It was a musical exhibition he called “980 Degrees” with about twenty large ceramic flower pots of varying shapes, hanging upside down. Guests were invited to use a padded drum stick to strike them, and each pot resonated with a different tone. (see separate article in my website).
In the meantime summer has definitely ended, the air feels thinner, the sky colours more pink in the mornings and purple in the evenings, and thus this festival and the many dances that go with it herald in the change of season.