When did you last visit the state of Illinois and the city of Chicago? When did you last enjoy the beauty of Estonian folk dress and music?
June 2023 is just the right time to do this! As a historic first in North America, the Estonian Cultural Society of Chicago in partnership with MTÜ Rahvarõivas, is holding a traditional Estonian “Airing of the Folk Dress.” We are calling the event “Kaaruspaelast Labajalavalsini,” or “The Decorative Knot’s Graceful Dance,” in homage to the beauty of the intricate stitching on the folk dress.
MTÜ Rahvarõivad is the official certifier in Estonia of professional master crafters of folk dress. Upon completing a 2-year course, folk dress makers may exhibit their creations and sell them as authentic and themselves teach classes, a 2-year course per parish. A huge investment, given there are 108 parishes!
The Estonian teachers taught our Chicago-based folk dress school these past 2 years via ZOOM. You are invited to hear from the Estonian teachers and students about this experience. Come and see for yourselves the beautiful folk dresses made of traditional materials and methods, i.e. BY HAND. And hear about the motivations and challenges and joys of our students. If you can, please wear your own Estonian (or other heritage) folk dress and join in the “airing” of these beloved outfits. Even if you have only a few precious components left, find a way to wear them and “air” them, along with all of us.
Included in the event will be a folk dress “clinic” by the teachers. You can sit individually with an expert for advice, guidance, and maybe even help with a simple repair. Ask how to keep and use your components if that is all you have left. There will be music, folk dance, food, and other entertainment throughout the weekend.
Friday, June 16, 2023
1:00 PM: Handicraft classes which include an embroidery workshop with Kadi Vingisaar, making a reed crown with Anu Randmaa, a rag doll with Merli Mänd, instrument and party tassels with Anu Pink, traditional bead necklace with Anu Randmaa, tablet weaved belt with Maret Lehis, button spinners and cat’s cradle with Märt-Villem Lehis.
2:45 PM: Rain boot throwing (saapavise)
3:00 PM: Break with refreshments
3:30 PM: Lucet Cord (kaaruspael) workshop
4:30 PM: Light dinner
5:00 PM: Presentation “No Ordinary Attire: Customs and Traditions of Estonian Folk Dress”
6:00 PM: Kaidi Soosaare concert. Kadi is singing her original compositions accompanied by acoustic guitar.
Saturday, June 17, 2023
You are invited to the graduation ceremony of the Chicago Folk Dress Course, 2021-23 at 1:00 PM. The students will speak about the history of the parish’s folk dress, their inspirations and experiences in creating them. Audience members will then be welcome to come forward to tell the stories of their folk dress. The teachers and organizers will give their insights on the specific outfits and the parishes from which they originate. A photographer will be present to records these events. Kaidi Soosaar will share her creative musical experience and perform for us. Dinner will be served at 4:00 PM.
At 6:00 PM, the evening program begins with a traditional village Midsummer (suviharja) party. The Chicago folk dance group Põhjanael will perform and
invite all our guests to join in. The music ensemble SIRLI from Tõstamaa, Estonia, will provide music for the evening. At interludes, we will offer traditional village games and at the right moment, when dusk meets dawn, the bonfire will be lit.
Sunday, June 18, 2023
There will be an excursion to downtown Chicago for the folk dancers, guests wearing folk dress, the graduating folk dress students, and the teachers from Estonia. Not only will we preserve the adventure on photos and video, we will also introduce Chicago to Estonian folk dress and culture.
MTÜ Rahvarõivad and the Estonian Cultural Society of Chicago.
Eesti Kultuuriselts Chicago / The Estonian Cultural Society of Chicago
The Estonian American National Council (EANC) / Eesti Rahvuskomitee Ühendriikides (ERKÜ)
Estonian Relief Committee USA / Eesti Abistamiskomitee
Eesti Rahvakultuuri Keskus
Anu Randmaa, Silja Nõu, Maret Lehis, Märt-Villem Lehis, Anu Pink, Merli Mänd, Liis Luhamaa, Kadi Vingisaar.