Traditional Maiden Fair in western Romania this weekend

The Maiden Fair (Târgul de Fete) at Găina Mountain, one of the oldest traditional events organized in the country, takes place this weekend, on July 21 and July 22. The fair is usually organized close to the Saint Ilie celebration, marked on July 20.

The fair starts on Saturday, July 21, in Avram Iancu, the closest locality to Găina Mountain. The commune, which comprises 33 villages, is located in the northwest of Alba county. Here, the event will kick off with various crafts demonstration, an ethnographic photography exhibition and a folklore performance, featuring groups from Alba Iulia, Noşlac, Teiuş, Blaj, Sohodol, Sibiu and Anenii Noi (Republic of Moldova).

The night will feature fireworks, and afterwards, participants will climb on Găina Mountain where a folk and country rock music concert is scheduled starting 21:00.

On Sunday, July 22, the Maiden Fair will start with a solemn ceremonial which will include a Te Deum sermon. An ensemble of women playing the tulnic (pictured), a long, horn-like instrument typical of the Apuseni Mountains, and the Augustin Bena Fanfare will join the festivities. A craftsmen fair and other performances from folkloric ensembles are scheduled throughout the day.

The Maiden Fair was first documented in 1816 but it is believed to be older than that. It was one of the best known popular events of the Romanians in Transylvania. It emerged out of the need of communication between the inhabitants of the valleys of Arieşului and Crişurilor, who lived in isolated and scattered settlements. Besides the economic relationships, the fair brought, in time, matrimonial relationships as many participants found their partners there.

Today the event is no longer a matchmaking one but an opportunity to preserve and promote traditional culture, crafts and dress.

How to get there:

From Alba Iulia, the Avram Iancu commune can be reached by car on the national road DN 74 up to the Mihoieşti dam. From here, the county road 762 leads to the commune. An area for camping, with water tanks, has been set up close to the plateau on Găina Mountain.

Saint Ilie day traditions; Maiden Fair on Gaina mountain

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