Traditional 'karakat' parade takes place on shore of Lake Peipus

The 'karakat' parade in Kallaste.
The 'karakat' parade in Kallaste. Source: ERR

This weekend, the town of Kallaste on the shore of Lake Peipus held its traditional parade of self-assembled hybrid vehicles known as 'karakats.' Those attending the parade got the chance to take a closer look at the unique vehicles, which are used for fishing on the lake during the winter.

Karakats are unique, self-made vehicles, usually with large wheels, which have been put together using parts from several different cars. Fishermen in Kallaste, which is located on the western shore of Lake Peipus, use them to fish on the frozen lake during the winter.

According event organizer Ekaterina Tõnilova, this year's karakat parade was the 21st of its kind in Kallaste.

"We always have a parade where we show off our fishermen's ice vehicles. There is always some  local culture too, either in the form of workshops or cultural performances on the stage. This year is especially busy, because it has coincided with Maslenitsa (Eastern Slavic religious and folk holiday – ed.), which we will also incorporate this time. It's a really traditional event," said Tõnilova.

Meelis, who brought his own machine to the parade, said that the tradition of building karakats developed as a result of fisherman wanting vehicles, which would provide them with safer and more comfortable conditions, than the old buran snowmobiles.

In his view, Kallaste is the place to be when it comes to building karakats.

"They are mainly used to go fishing on the lake. Those who have them use the smaller karakats for angling and the bigger ones for net fishing," he explained.

Making karakats became popular in Soviet times, however, Tõnilova says, that the culture of using them is starting to die out.

"It's much more convenient to take a canoe and sail in that. With karakats, you have to take the big wheels off in the summer and put regular wheels on underneath. However (nowadays), people don't bother putting new wheels on, they just sell the old ones. So, that's just how it goes," she said.

The oldest karakat in the parade belonged to Ilja, who said, that despite its slightly worn out appearance, it was a perfectly serviceable machine.

"This car was built by my father. I can't remember the exact year, around 1995 or so. My father maintained it beautifully and kept it in great condition. I've been driving it for six or seven years and always make sure to take good care of it," Ilja said.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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