Village Amusement Park
At first, villagers didn't understand why these attractions could be interesting. When they discovered, that many people had never seen anything like this before, they agreed to help with the project
Entertainment recreated with the help of ancient drawings, and crafts lost through technological progress. In Ukraine’s Cherkasy region, there is an educational complex, which attracts hundreds of tourists and gives work to villagers.
Central Ukraine. 40 kilometers from the city of Cherkasy. Several dozen houses are hidden among wooded hills. The village of Ivkivtsi was becoming deserted, but locals came up with a way to attract more people here.
Oleksiy Zayichenko regularly meets tourist groups near this old mill. He has worked here since childhood. Now, he is a tour guide and tells visitors how flour used to be ground. To make the lecture more interesting, he adds numerous amusing stories.
“All this was creaking when the mill was working. It was dark, the wind was whistling. This is how tales about evil spirits appeared. But there are no witches here,” he said.
About 10 authentic windmills have been preserved in Ukraine. This one was restored by the entire village, although few locals believed in success.
“It seemed to me that there was nothing interesting about it. It’s just a mill. But it turned out that many people had never seen one before,” Zayichenko said.
Through their combined efforts, locals also rebuilt an abandoned farm and turned it into a museum. The showpieces were found by villagers in their attics and gardens. Among them are an ancient Roman iron, medieval cannonballs, and mealing stones, which are about two thousand years old. Other exhibits are from the 20th century.
“In this museum, visitors are allowed to do anything this like. This exhibit can be twisted and twirled. Now, we’ll try to grind flour like it was done a hundred years ago. We pull it up. We’ll need to pull harder, but the flour is now finer,” UATV correspondent Yevheniya Burda said.
“If visitors come from a village, the tour starts with a grandma demonstrating everything herself. If they are city dwellers, they say, “oh, what is this?” tour guide Alla Marchenko said.
Local artisans revive crafts which used to be passed on from generation to generation but are beginning to disappear since they’re no longer used. Every guest is allowed to try their hand at them, even if their legs can’t reach the equipment
The museum workers preserve the memory of how their ancestors used to make paper from hemp and nettles, bake bread, and sculpt from clay.
“They are genuine, and this is what makes them original. Sometimes, people come specially to see the blacksmith. Others ask “why wasn’t tour guide Trofimovych here today?”. People come here for their flair. Because they’re real. Everything here is real, this is how we win people over,” Nazar Lavrynenko said.
Nazar Lavrynenko convinced his fellow villagers to revive Ivkivtsi in this way. As a historian, he was interested in the past of his village and then started thinking about its future. A few years ago, he learned about a Ukrainian-Polish project called “Reinventing the Village”, which taught micro-entrepreneurship in villages.
“We had a windmill and a monument to Maksym Zalizniak but I had no idea how to incorporate this into the tourist economy. And thanks to the Poles, we found our niche and are gradually developing and improving it,” he said.
There are around 20 people working at the amusement park. Its revenues cannot compete with city attractions but are sufficient to develop new sites. For now, about 5% of the original idea has been implemented.