by Tatevik Shahunyan
The first ever Sheep Shearing Festival opened in Armenia on 3 May at Halidzor station of Tatev aerial tramway, the longest in the world.
The event was organized by the Tatev Revival Foundation and the Homeland Development Initiative. The aim of the festival is to contribute to the development of public, economic, cultural and civil activities in the region. Representatives of seven communities participated in the festival. The participants in the festival could taste traditional dishes, listen and watch live performances, take a dancing lesson.
"The idea of a festival belongs to the honorary consul of Norway and Finland and founder of the Homeland Development Initiative Timothy Straight. We welcome the initiative and do believe that Syunik Region with its developed sheep breeding is a place where such events must be held," said Aren Apikyan, director of the festival.
The guests of the festival were demonstrated three stages how simple wool turns into the best hand-made carpets made by specialists of the Goris Women Resource Centre. By the way, the carpets produced at the Centre are exported to the USA and Europe. In 2013 the Centre made carpets at about 9,5 million AMD.
About 2 thsd tourists visited the festival. Syunik governor Vahe Hakopyan and Armenia's Agriculture Minister Sergo Karapetyan as well as US Ambassador to Armenia John Heffern attended the festival.
Incidentally, US Ambassador to Armenia John Heffern tried to shear a sheep during the Sheep Shearing Festival. And governor Hakopyan promised to learn sheep shearing by the next festival. Special gold-plated, silver and bronze clippers were foreseen as prizes.
Ambassador Heffern said he had never participated in such events, but decided to try. With the help of a specialist, Ambassador tried to shear a sheep.
As Aren Apikyan said, the Tatev Revival Foundation is going to hold such a festival every year, and why not, to turn it into an international one. "However, he is absolutely confident that Armenians will become champions in sheep shearing by hand, as in the European countries sheep are not shared by hand long ago", - he said.
For his part, the honorary consul of Norway and Finland and founder of the Homeland Development Initiative, Timothy Straight, added that Tatev has a great potential for development and similar events will promote that.
The project of Tatev Revival was launched in 2008 and is expected to be completed by 2017 ahead of 1111th anniversary of the monastery.