The Estonian village movement Kodukant on Saturday declared the small town of Kaerepere Estonia's village of the year 2023.
Representatives of the best villages in every one of Estonia's 15 counties marched in a procession to the Sadala village green in Jõgeva County where they were kept in suspense until the very last minute.
Kaerepere, not to be confused with Kaarepere in Jõgeva County, lies in Kehtna Municipality in Rapla County. The small town's residents find that they have earned the title.
"I believe that we care, have heart, and that people notice," Kaerepere resident Leaanyka Leisson said.
Marita Seemer, who also lives in the town, said that it has everything people need. "Everything is a stone's throw away: the school, kindergarten and shop. Everything you really need is there."
The Kodukant movement has been picking the village of the year every other year since 2005.
Project manager Anneli Kana said that the judges looked at initiative and successful execution of activities that help develop the village and unite the community, effective cooperation with the local government, local companies and nonprofits.
"I believe that all of this year's nominees deserve the title of "Village of the Year." Strong feelings of community, love for one's home and the desire to contribute to local development could be felt in each and every one. I'm glad that young people have moved to villages in different parts of Estonia, people who want to contribute and bring new momentum," said President of the Riigikogu Lauri Hussar who participated in the work of the jury.
Seven honorable mentions were picked in addition to the village of the year. Kana said that 33 villages from all 15 counties competed.
"These villages are more active as communities when they share a common goal. And while villages do come together to solve problems and address concerns, this competition is where they can do it out of joy. I believe this to be very important," the project manager remarked.
The safety special award went to the village of Suurejõe in Pärnu County; rural life promotion award to Ostrova in Võru County; hospitality award to Valma in Viljandi County; local government cooperation award to Soonurme, Ida-Viru County; child friendliness award to Neemi, Saaremaa; Leader project award to Puise in Lääne County; and the community development award to Albu, Järva-County.
The winner received a diploma, a keepsake and a stiped of €1,500 from the Kodukant movement.
Editor: Marcus Turovski