The first dance groups arrived in Tallinn on Tuesday, and rehearsals for the XIII Youth Dance Festival "Bridges" got underway. The first soups and curd snacks were distributed as well.
This year, the canteen employs reusable cutlery for the first time in the history of the youth song and dance celebration.
Carolyn Mets, the food coordinator for the dancers, said waste separation is challenging, yet with the help of volunteers, it is properly handled.
Volunteers who work on a rota during the Song and Dance Festival were sought out through a major volunteer recruitment campaign. Their days are long and the work is strenuous; thousands of people keeping a tight schedule simultaneously.
"At the moment, there are about 2,000 dancers in the field but by the day of the festival there will be 10,000," she said.
Margo Keerme, head of catering for the dance festival, said that the food tent was set up yesterday. The kitchen is staffed by both instructors and volunteers who help and guide the performing youngsters.
The soups are made and served to the dancers by the Women's voluntary defense organization (Naiskodukaitse). In addition to catering, they are in charge of logistics, as food must be delivered to the practice fields.
The organization brigades have organized food for the Song and Dance Festival for the third time. "We are essentially the only organization in Estonia with this capability," Airi Tooming, leader of the organization, said.
"We have 150 pots, large vans and minibuses to transport everything," she said. It takes 13 huge soup pots to feed one batch, or a stadium full of dancers and these must be distributed in small portions in a short period of time. "We had to do a lot of preparatory work as well, mapping out the routes that people would take to avoid congestion," she said.
Today, 70 members of the Women's voluntary defense organization are present, and approximately 160 of them in total, together with the members of the Defense League, will contribute to the field cooking team during the week.
The Women's voluntary defense organization, Tooming said, accepted the catering offer mostly for the experience. "From a training standpoint, we don't have another opportunity like this," she said. "While catering is usually practiced on military exercises when 500 men must be served at once, it is quite another to feed thousands in a very short period of time."
150,000 servings of soup will be made in two field kitchens over the course of the week, Tooming said.
If we can serve 40,000 people at the Song and Dance Festival, we could probably feed the entire Lasnamäe [Tallinn's district] in an emergency. This is an important logistical exercise for us," she said.
Yoko, who is nine years old, is attending the Dance Festival for the first time. She said that so far, everything has been perfect, the soup is delicious, and she is happy. Rianna, Keira, Belinda and Otto are members of Laulasmaa's school dance group. They say the rehearsals are demanding, but the instructors are fantastic. Cassandra said, "The soup is very warm, but delicious!"
Editor: Kristina Kersa