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June 23, 2021

Haferland Week, the festival that brings Transylvania Saxons home from overseas every summer

The Haferland Festival, one of the highest-profile Saxon cultural festivals in Transylvania, is running full steam in Brasov County’s villages Fiser, Viscri, Crit, Roades and Mesendorf, a region known in the olden days as Haferland or Oatland.

“The Haferland cultural week is a project proposed by the ‘Michael Schmidt’ Foundation which refurbished the parish house in Crit, and by the ‘Peter Maffay’ Foundation that set up a home for traumatised children in Roades. They suggested that we organise a broader cultural event spanning an entire week, but we didn’t know how to name it, and then we agreed on ‘Haferland Week’ because this is what our area was named in the past, because of its barren soil, compared to the neighboring rich Barsa Land near Brasov. Folks in our region scratched a living by breeding animals and needed oats, so this was called ‘Oatland, or Haferland.’ This festival, which reunites the Saxon families who left for Germany after 1990, is aimed at actively supporting the conservation and restoration of the Saxons’ cultural heritage, but also at promoting tourism,” Caroline Fernolend, managing director of the “Mihai Eminescu” Trust – an organization committed to heritage preservation and the development of the locals’ professional skills, which stands under the patronage of Prince Charles – told Agerpres.

The Saxons who emigrated to Germany can now see how the area has developed against the odds, as it was just natural to believe that the villages will fall to bits after the departure of these families, yet proof of the contrary is now aplenty. “When they left, they said the village would be destroyed in 10 years, and I am very glad that we can now prove the contrary, and that we too, in Romania, attach high value to heritage. Heritage is a development potential and Viscri has proven this,” Fernolend said.

The festival started on August 6 in Fiser, with a presentation of Haferland everyday life led by the generations of yore, continued on Friday in Viscri with an organ concert at the fortified church – a UNESCO monument, and with a presentation of Haferland. On the same day, a pottery workshop was inaugurated in Saschiz – Mures County. The festival continued on Saturday in Crit, with a religious service celebrated at the fortified church, followed by a brass band concert interspersed with short addresses and a biking contest organized by the ADEPT Foundation; a ball takes place in the evening. On Sunday in Roades, the Tabaluga Foundation of Brasov-born singer Peter Maffay will deliver a presentation of the projects carried out in this village, specifically a home for traumatised children and the renovation of five Saxon houses, of which one is intended for the local doctor, one is a guest house, one accommodates a workshop that produces natural apple juice, and the other two accommodate carpentry workshops. Cakes will be served and there will be music performed on various instruments and on the organ too. On Monday, the last day of the festival, it’s Mesendorf’s turn to get all the attention, with a visit to the recently refurbished fortified church, and the buffalo farm.

The festival organizers are the “Michael Schmidt” Foundation, the “Peter Maffay” Foundation, the “Tabaluga” Foundation, in partnership with the “Mihai Eminescu” Trust, and the ADEPT Foundation.

Unlike the first two editions of the festival that spanned a whole week, this year the event lasts only five days, mainly for financial reasons, Caroline Fernolend explained.

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