Eesti 200 folk festival ice cream electioneering hits trouble

Chocolate covered ice cream (photo is illustrative).
Chocolate covered ice cream (photo is illustrative). Source: Steve Buissinne / Pixabay

A folk festival organizer ejected minors who had been giving out ice cream. The children had been tasked with the errand by political party Eesti 200, whose branding adorned the confectionery packaging.

Organizer of the Viru Folk Festival Peep Veedla said that security at the event last weekend, in Kasmu, Lääne-Viru County, had apprehended several girls who were doling out the ice creams.

"This activity was below the belt," Veedla said, referring to the ice cream donors rather than the security staff.

"They could've asked, like other people do. Sending kids intro the fray without any coordination is shameful," he added, according to BNS.

Political parties are gearing up for October's municipal elections, with promotional goodies likely to be in increasing evidence as summer gives way to autumn.

Veedla went on to say: "Let the politics remain in the streets and in neutral environments."

"This is not suitable at events. It would have been okay if all [political] parties had been there, but right now, it appears as if Viru Folk is supporting one particular party."

"Trying to bribe people with lollipops is ridiculous. Viru Folk festival is visited by smart people," Veedla added.

Eesti 200 spokesperson Tarmo Tamm rejected the criticism, however.

Tamm said: "The organizer has misunderstood something. No organizer can claim the public spaces for themselves, and the main street in Kasmu village remained such a public space during the festival as well."

"I do not understand his taking umbrage and the security staff under his command offending little girls with their behavior," Tamm added.

Veedla said that even if prior permission had been sought for the promotional drive, it would have been declined, and added that having wrapped products, rather than open ice cream in cones, was a deliberate ploy on the part of Eesti 200 to facilitate their smuggling into the festival zone.

Tarmo Tamm said that the original stock of ice creams had been around 1,000, some of which were left over after the weekend.

While some festival goers disapproved of the use of minors in the publicity drive – with one telling regional daily Virumaa Teataja (link in Estonian): "Those girls probably don't even understand what they're used for," the girls themselves were positive in their report of the experience, regardless of adults being at loggerheads over the issue.

One told Virumaa Teataja that: "No one has said anything bad, and the ice cream was always accepted … We have done a very good job, and shared a lot of ice cream."

Adult ice cream distributors were also on the case, outside a local store in Kasmu.

The original Virumaa Teataja article (in Estonian) is here.

Electoral regulations have been shaken up ahead of October's polls. Whereas outdoor advertising had been banned for around six weeks ahead of polling day – a much-panned rule – this is now no longer the case, save for inside a polling station, on election day itself, October 17.

While the six-day advance voting period remains, there are no longer any "dark days" between it and polling day, meaning advance voting segues straight into election day. The e-vote will also not now be published ahead of the paper vote; instead election results will be announced as one.

These changes, combined with the presidential election process starting August 30, have had the effect of delaying the start of campaigning activities to later in summer than would normally be the case, for most parties.

Founded in 2018, Eesti 200 is contesting its third elections in October.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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