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Pillerkaar, the Estonian folk-dance group from the Washington, D.C. area, entertained an enthusiastic crowd at the annual Scanfest at Budd Lake, Hackettstown, N.J. on Sunday, September  5, 2010.

Scanfest is an outdoor festival of the Nordic nations - Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Finland, and Estonia - which draws thousands of people on Labor Day weekend each year.  The festival offers a full day of ethnic music, dance, gift shopping at some 100 booths, and food tents serving pea soup to pizza.

The lines at the Swedish pancake tent were especially long, since they reminded everyone of their own pankoogid.  "Kodune," one Estonian senior visitor commented.  Pillarkaar, which traditionally has anchored the dancing here, came with seven performers: Karen Heilman, Jyri Erik Kork, Mauno Kork, Age Landra Robinson, Laila Oinas, Priit Vesilind, and Jeff Zelek, as well as director/choreographer Anu Oinas and her grandson Hagan, three years old, who was also in Estonian national dress.  The riveting dances included the comedic "Polka burlesk" and "Kosjalugu"; the coquettish "Meie Mari"; a fast paced "Vigala reindlander" and "Tule aga tule"; as well as the graceful Austrian waltz from Sound of Music, "Laendler".

Priit Vesilind

ERR News - Estonia has climbed two places to reach 33rd place in the World Economic Forum's latest competitiveness rankings. The organization's newly-released Global Competitiveness Report ranked the country the highest among the ten nations that joined the EU in 2004.

Commenting on the report, Heido Vitsur, an economist for the Estonian Development Fund, said that the most significant change was in the country's macroeconomic situation.

ERR News - When some years ago the Tower of Hercules in La Coruña, Spain, held the title of the world's oldest functioning lighthouse, now the honor belongs to Kõpu, Hiiumaa, Päevaleht wrote.

The 36-meter Kõpu lighthouse, in the western part of Estonia's second-largest island, was built in the beginning of the 16th century. According to historical re-cords, the first firewood was ignited at the top of the lighthouse on August 1, 1531. The tower served as an important beacon for merchant fleets of the Hanseatic League that were sailing in the Baltic.

The lens still in use, floating in a mercury basin, was bought from a Paris exhibition in 1901. Kõpu lighthouse is visited by nearly 30,000 tourists every year. Hiiumaa's Kõpu, Ristna and Tahkuna are the only Estonian lighthouses regularly open for public visitation.

FMReview - 12 August - Estonian Public Broadcasting (ERR) has launched an English-language news site at http://news.err.ee to present objective information from Estonia to an international audience. The newsdesk was established to help increase interest in Estonia from the international public as well as wire services by providing a source of trustworthy and balanced news coverage.

Daily news headings include Politics, Economy, Sci-Tech, Culture and Sports. The site will cover the major headlines and news that could be of interest to people abroad and will also feature subtitled video segments from the country's best-known evening news program, Aktuaalne Kaamera, and other ETV and ETV2 programming.

The newsdesk is staffed by a multinational team consisting of Erkki Sivonen, Ott Tammik, Kristopher Rikken and Steven Roman. The portal launch and development is being led by longtime Estonian resident Scott Diel, who contributes a wealth of experience in the international media, and ERR portals editor Aivar Pau.

In a Newsweek article from the August 23&30, 2010 issue, (cover story: The Best Country In The World Is…) Mac Margolis writes in an article regarding “e-government” about Estonia’s trailblazing dominance in this area.

He explains that if Franz Kafka had grown up in modern Tallinn instead of 19th century Prague, the world might find itself bereft of a number of modern literary classics, due to the lack of “the implacable gatekeeper”–type characters (who stymie and torture any number of Kafka’s self-referential main characters) in his experience. …A basic lack of confounding bureaucratic inefficiency and paperwork (especially).

Estonia regained its independence on 20 August 1991. Capitalizing on confusion from a failed hardliner putsch in Moscow, the country literally turned the "worst of times" into the "best of times" with a show of cross-partisan solidarity that has been all too rare since then. Here is an in-depth look back at the chronological events that led up to August 20, 1991.

 

The beginning of the end for Soviet rule

The collapse of the communist system in Estonia was founded on objective contradictions and weaknesses within the system itself as well as internal and external pressures.  By the mid-1980s, the aggressive policies of Reagan and Thatcher and the growing resistance in the system itself had led the Soviet empire into deep crisis. It was clear to the Soviet leadership that they were losing the Cold War. In order to halt the arms race, reforms, or rather the semblance of reforms, were introduced under Mikhail Gorbachov. The restructuring—perestroika—was what ultimately dismantled the Soviet Union.

 

The 56th annual Eesti Mängud was held in Lakewood from July 30 to August 1st. The events started Friday with golf at the Pine Barrens Country Club and ended with the volleyball finals played at the Lakewood Eesti Maja. There were nearly 300 participants in the various sporting events.

The weather was exceptional and some 45 campers set-up their tent sites Friday evening, including the Kungla folk dance troupe and friends who arrived by bus from Toronto.  Many guests came from the eastern seaboard states, including Florida.  The Kajakad (Girl Guide leaders) came from Estonia and we had Estonian volleyball players from Korea.  More tents were positioned on Saturday.

 

Estonian Day Event In Salisbury Maryland on the Campus of Salisbury University in the Great Room of Halloway Hall at 2:00 PM, Saturday, 11 September 2010.

Also the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Maryland/Estonian Exchange Council (MEEC) on the campus of Salisbury University in the Montgomery Room of the Commons  Building, on Saturday, 11 September 2010.  This will be a working lunch with lunch starting at 12:00 noon and the meeting starting at 12:30 PM.  Please contact Toivo Tagamets for more details (301-951-7160 &   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ).  Car Parking next door.

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