Beringa Festival Lavrentiya Bay

Local Eskimo cheer squad for local tug of war team! Female tug of war winners! "The Outsiders" Australia: Russia: USA: Germany: Finland
A gathering of all ages. Those that remember the 'old times' Those that are in the new times. Very successful selling headbands!!
Important that the young learn traditional ways A genuine enjoyment of their own heritage

 

A major event is the whale boat races. This is VERY serious competition and many egos are at stake!! There are both male and female team events and then there are the junior races. These boats are made locally from wood off cuts (often driftwood) and Reindeer hides for the sides and seat covers.

 
Young people keeping there customs alive  

 

Indigenous crafts were also available People came from far and wide
 
A chance to wear ones best traditional outfit!  

Traditional Food

At an event like this the traditional foods of these northern tribal groups are available to eat. This includes Whale meat and blubber along with Reindeer. There was no walrus served!!
These menu items may come as a shock to many of us but, the tradition of these people involved sea mammal hunting and reindeer herding for 1000's of years. Fishing was and still is a food mainstay, with salmon being the most prevalent when in season.

Chukotka might be found at the bottom of any 'foodie' list and local dishes can horrify even the most intrepid of travellers. Some local delicacies are so far away from our knowledge of food that you may not even want to be in the same room as them. Take the local specialty “kopaika” for example: meat and fat of a grey whale are placed into a bag that is buried underground for one month. Local gourmands insist that this creates “an incredibly healthy and nutritious substance.” Untested by this writer and  I assure you there is no future plan to sample such a 'regional dish'..

If you ever happen to make it to this far-flung corner of Russia, try “mantak,” possibly the most edible of local dishes. You begin by chopping whale's skin and fat into pieces and then boil for 20 minutes in a pan. Before eating don't forget to ask the spirit of the whale for an apology. In Chukchi mythology the whale is the forefather of everything on Earth. In this region whale meat used to feed families, bones were used for building houses. In addition clothes and boats were made out of its skin and the whale oil was used for the lighting and heat within their huts.

Due to the many changes in the 20th century, primarily as a result of the forced relocation by the Soviets of coastal villages, food habits were forced to change. The climate and soil type (perma-frost tundra)  is not suitable for cultivation. So, apart from fish and reindeer (still herded for meat) all food is either flown, or shipped into these remote settlements.

Whale, or walrus meat, are no longer regular staples of the diet. However, during significant events hunting will be done. The native peoples of this region are permitted to hunt 12 whales per year - 'for cultural purposes'. This festival is one such event and so fresh whale meat and blubber was available and consumed with fervour by the locals.

Food was provided for the entire community from the hunt. This next page link takes you some images of the whale hunt haul out. These are quite graphic and are presented as a true record of current cultural practices. Whale Hunt Page.

Keen consumption of whale and reindeer meat Blubber Sandwiches!!!

Whale and reindeer meat cooked on open fires