Mardilaat craft fair to go online this year, starting Friday ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

"Mardilaat 2020. Virtual this time" reads the online promotion. Source: ERR

This year's Mardilaat craft fairs is to move online due to coronavirus considerations, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reports. The fair starts Friday and runs until Sunday.

The Mardilaat fair is a large-scale event hosted in previous years at the Saku Suurhall in Tallinn, and before that, at the Song Festival Grounds.

However, with over 200 craftspeople alone due to take part this year – the 24th event of its kind – the event moves online, and will include workshops and other viewer-friendly components, AK reported.

At the same time, smaller satellite events are taking place nationwide which can be attended in person, including a lace-themed fair in Haapsalu, a folk-costume-based event in Tõstamaa, Pärnu County, and a carpet weaving session in the capital itself from Friday, which includes the opportunity to try out the activity yourself, at the Kaarmann handicrafts store on Vanaturu kael 8 in the Old Town.

Famous past participants in carpet weaving include former prime minister Mart Laar and former president Toomas Hendrik Ilves.

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit many craftspeople hard, given that the staple customer base, foreign tourism, has all but evaporated.

"My company, Feltmill, has been affected directly," said Liina Veskimägi Illiste.

"My sales have fallen by 90 percent. Maybe I made some wrong decisions. I have been focusing my work to Old Town shops in Tallinn rather than nationwide," she went on.

Many stores have been making use of retirees or those working as a hobby job in addition to their main employment, with the new year still uncertain, Liivi Soova, a founder of the crafts association (Kasitööliit), said.

"We have suffered the most pain in Tallinn. Although we love local customers and our companies have a great connection with them, tourists have been our buyers to a very large extent," said Soova.

Mardi päev (St. Martin's Day, or Martinmas) itself falls on Wednesday next week. It traditionally has played the equivalent role occupied by Halloween and marks the end of the same period of All Souls. Children did, and still do, dress as adult men and knock on doors and request candies in exchange for performing songs.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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