Rafaela Prifti /
At the Mediation Garden, back of the Chancery building, west of the Saint George’s Cathedral, a set of eight tables served as stands for the participants of the First Fall Fair this Sunday. About a month ago, the iniciator and hostess Neka Doko, sent out an invite calling for presentations of “the best of recent family products or old artifacts and historic memorabilia inherited from your family.” Vatra, Fan Noli Library, Albanian Chancery, South Boston, Life School of New York, MaasBesa, Gocat e Bostonit, Worcester Music and Dance Festival were on board as supporters. Businesses and representatives included Arbonne International, Life School, Apiculture Family Business, Elbasan Traditional Pastries, Vinny Santal Boston, Massachusetts, Fan Noli Library contributors and friends, L&T Abruzzi Wine, Importer and Distributor. The result was a veritable feast of culinary and food products from honey to olive oil, organic gastronomic and beauty products, as well as rare historical items.
“The theme,” says Neka Doko, Head of the Fan Noli Library, “is the 100th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between Albania and the US. Yet the approach is rather innovative.” She places emphasis on promoting traditions and entrepreneurs that embrace Echo standards in their presentations. Armed with the “know-how” by the Life School’s Mission Driven Entrepreneurship, Neka set out to bring this presentation to the community.
Archimandrite Theophan, after completing Sunday mass, stepped out on the grass area of the garden, to greet the participants and then say a prayer for the event. He and Neka went to each stand to introduce the respective vendor, who spoke briefly about their product and professional careers.
“I didn’t know that there are Vlora Sardines and Albanian dairy products here in Boston,” says Silva Hani, who is a financial advisor. At the fair, she presented homegrown honey, a hobby she inherited from her father who is currently in Albania.
Andrea Pani, third generation of a distinguished Vatra family, is at the Dielli and Vatra table, where one finds rare publications such as the Vatra Calendar of 1918. Among them, the first Vreshta (the Vineyard) issues in 1970s, which Neka says laid the foundation of the Noli library. Andrea showcases a framed black and white photo of a man’s vest. At the upper right corner of the picture, handwritten in printed letters is the name: Faik Konica. He explains that his grandfather Vasil Pani had taken care of some of Faik Konica’s possessions. Years after his father passed, Andrea discovered that he had some items of historical significance such as the photo of the vest and indeed the vest itself.
From the next table that displays a banner that reads Arbonne International, a line of organic food and beauty products, Anila Hasko Kurti walks just a few steps and reaches for an item on the Vatra stand. It is a binded copy with a laminated cover of Vatra Calendar 1918. She quietly turns the pages in search of something she knows she will find there. Then stops at a page showing a group photo with the caption: Vatra Manchester #4, New Hampshire, and points at a young man in the third raw and another one in the middle of the top raw. “This one is Islam Kurti, my grandfather and that one is Emin Kurti, his brother,” she says. It is hard to say what the expectations were of the people coming to the fair, but it seemed that this buffet offered samples, surprises and exchanges potentially fruitful and meaningful.
John Pappas of the Pappas family, one of the founders of Saint George’s Church, sits behind a white clothed table with an impressive display of publications starting with the original copy of Faik Konica’s Albania: The Rock Garden of Southeastern Europe and photocopies of issues of Dielli marking its 50th anniversary, and so on. Vatra President Elmi Berisha could not attend the event in person but has been supportive of it since its initial stages. In my remarks, I noted the ongoing collaboration as a source of our strength. “To mark the 100th year of the Albanian American diplomatic relations, the community celebrated the opening of the photo exhibit at the Worcester Historic Museum at the end of June, Vatra hosted a conference on July 23rd, and now we are gathered at the Fall Fair hosted by the Fan Noli library ” The proceeds will go to offset the cost of an English language publication supported by friends of Fan Noli library titled “Albanians of Americas”, a long-term project of the Library’s Cultural Fund.
“There are no limits to what humans can reach,” emphasizes founder of Life School New York, Elona Lopari. Perhaps the same can be said about Sundays Fair. In view of the areas of interests and industries presented, it could generate new ideas and partnerships that could go into so many directions.