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Beginner’s guide to Macedonia: Kavadarci

Going to Kavadarci and not drinking brandy mayseem impossible to someone, but it has happened to me several times, not because I don’t like brandy, but because such were the circumstances. Fortunately, there are many more interesting things there beside the brandy.
Because I usuallyremember the places I visit for their food, I will tryto do the same with this town, so I will start with the pishi, pindjur, the basil salad and the pizza full with yellow cheese that we had at 40 degrees in the garden of the hotel- restaurant Balkan, where the first cinema in the town was set, according to its citizens.
The occasion for our visit was the recent celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Tikvesh uprising, but we had enough time to go to the most beautiful places in town before that. Aside from having one of the most beautiful parks in the country, the people of Kavadarci are proud to have the new citysquare, which is now their favorite spot and where the most important cultural and economic-tourist events “St. Trifun” and “Tikvesh vintage” are being held. There is also the reconstructed quay, which is 2 km long.

The eternal rivals
The thing that will make you smile while walking along the streets in Kavadarci is their dialect, which is exactly what they have in common with their eternal rivals – the people from Negotino. The rivalry between these two towns has brought manyinteresting anecdotes and one of the funniest is the one about the beginnings of the program of Radio Kavadarci about fiftyyears: “This is radio Kavadarci speaking, people from Negotino”.
According to the locals, this rivalry has started during the Ottoman reign when the beys from Negotino when to the Turkish governor in Thessaloniki and bribed him into setting the head of the Tikvesh region in Negotino. The beys from Kavadarci opposed to this decision and even burned the administration building twice before going to Thessaloniki to intervene with the governor. He formed a commission that would visit the two towns and decide which one had the better conditions. The clever tikvesh beys welcomed the commission in Thessaloniki and brought it to Kavadarci earlyin the morning, across the Vitachevo ridge from where the whole town covered by the sun rays could be seen. Theyliked the town very much and left in the evening, passing through Negotino, without even seeing it. Then theychanged the decision to move the headquarters to Kavadarci. The trickery between the people from these two towns, only 10 km from each other, has been going on for centuries. Even though they had common music groups, Kavadarci is proud of
Nikola Badev, while Negotino is proud of Petranka Kostadinova.
However, people from both towns saythat their rivalry has never disrupted their cooperation, which is confirmed bythe latest celebration – the 100th anniversary of the Tikvesh uprising at the stage of the Culture Center where participants from both towns were present in the artistic part of the program. The every-daylife of the people that have the two biggest vineyards in the Balkan – “Tikvesh” and “Povardarie” is with the same vine grower problems and celebrate each harvest in their own way – Kavadarci with the event called Tikvesh vintage that marks the beginning of the harvest, while Negotino has the Festival of wine.

The center of the Tikvesh region
Kavadarci is located in central Macedonia and is the center of the Tikvesh region. It is settled at an altitude of 230 to 270 meters. The first time that the settlement of Kavadarci was mentioned was in Turkish documents from 1823 as a small settlement (“kasaba”) with around 2.000 residents located at the most eastern part of the Bitola vilayet at the time. As a town, it started to develop in early XIX century. However, there are archaeological sites nearby which suggest that there was a settlement at this place since ancient times and middle ages. The numerous beautiful medieval churches and monasteries are a testament from the middle ages, particularlythose around the caves at the coast Tikvesh Lake.
The first religious schools in the Kavadarci region were opened in early XVII century. The settlement of Vatasha, which is now part of Kavadarci, was where the first printing machine in the Balkan was brought.
The ideal geographical and meteorological conditions enable this region to develop as an agricultural paradise where manycultures could be grown, but it is most famous for its wine growing. Unfortunately, the building of the metallurgical giant FE-NI marked the destruction of the ecologicallyclear environment.

Legends from Kavadarci
One of the greatest legends from Kavadarci is singer Nikola Badev, who was born in 1918 and dedicated his entire life to music. From an “official” singer of the Macedonian radio “Radio Skopje” in a period when the music and songs were only broadcasted live, his voice made him the most recognizable singer of Macedonian songs and his voice was met with admiration on all continents where Macedonians were living.
During the 1970s, there were also motor races through the town’s streets during the “Tikvesh vintage” with participants from all countries in former Yugoslavia.
However, as the “Tikvesh vintage” started to die out, so did the races in Kavadarci…

The residents had an opportunityto remind themselves of that tradition over the last days when the 9th motor festival organized bythe motor club “Night wolves” was held outside of Skopje for the first time. This year, over 300 participants from Macedonia and friends from the European countries were camping in the locality of “Moklishte”, located above the legendaryvillage of Vatasha. In honor of the 12 young people from Vatasha who were shot bythe Bulgarian fascist occupier and to celebrate 100 years of the Tikvesh uprising, the municipality of Kavadarci and the mayor Aleksandar Panov were the hosts of this year’s motor event.

Speaking about legendary events and people from this town, it must be said that Kavadarci is also the birth place of the great masters: Petar Mazev, Gligor Chemerski, Ana Temkova, Simon Shemov, etc.
The oldest of them is the great Macedonian artist Petar Mazev, born in 1927. Everyone who had the smallest bit of knowledge in the area foresaw a great future ahead of him. Gligor Chemerski is a known Macedonian painter, graphic and mosaic artist born in 1940 who left is mark in the town with the mosaics that remind of the history of the Macedonian people. In the center of the town, on the outside wall of the building that was a department store once, there is a mosaic made in 1978 depicting a Macedonian wedding.

The first Tikvesh beauty 
The older people from Kavadarci saythat their town was ahead of the other towns in Macedonia in manythings, including the first beautycontest that was held for the first time in 1930. Unfortunately, the name of the winner has remained a mysteryto this day. There is a written document about the awards for the participants. The winner was awarded with a dining set made of sixknives, spoons and forks, the runner-up got sixtea cups while the third – a nut grinding machine.

Important anniversaries
Two important anniversaries were marked in Kavadarci in June – 100 years from the Tikvesh uprising and 70 years from the shooting of the children from Vatasha.
According to historical data, the Tikvesh uprising began and ended during the Second Balkan War (19th-26th June 1913) and is one of the most important pillars of the struggle of the Macedonian people for ethnical, language, spiritual and state independence with 545 people giving their lives for the cause.
The Tikvesh uprising was the first and biggest armed resistance of the people against the Serbian occupier after the First Balkan War and is one of the most important uprisings.
The Serbian soldiers were killing, raping, destroying and burning. The historians in Macedonia say that this uprising was kept a secret for years in order to preserve the relations with the Serbians, with whom we lived together.
A memorial monument was built in the park Polana in honor of the victims and the addition of the “Anthology of the 1913 Tikvesh uprising” was also presented.
Several days earlier, on 16th June, 70 years were marked from the day when the Bulgarian fascists shot 12 young Macedonians from the village of Vatasha: Vasil Hadji Jordanov, Fercho PopGjeorgjiev, Dime Chekorov, Blaze Icev, Vancho Gurev, Pane Djunov, Danko Dafkov, Ilcho Dimov, Gerasim Matakov, Pane Meshkov, Risto Gjondev and Pero Videv. They were honored at the memorial at Moklishte.

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