The fair of Uzundzhovo village
The autumn fair that had been organized for 3 centuries by the Uzundzhovo Village in the area of Haskovo was one of the biggest local events in the times of the Ottoman yoke. At the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century there gathered more than 50 000 buyers and traders every day from all the Ottamn Empire and different parts of Europe, Asia and Africa.
According to the German Historian Hammer, the fair was started in 1593 by Sinan Pasha – a grand vizir of the times of the Sultans Murad III (1574-1593) and Mehmed (1593 – 1603). Passing by the place he liked it a lot and granted 30 thousand golden stivers from the treasury and ordered there to be build a caravanserai, a mosque, imaret and a bath, and each year a fair to be organized in the village which would last 40 days. Bulgarian scholars say that the fair was initially a Christian fair-market which with the help of the Turkish Authorities had gradually developped into a big fair. The market-place itself was devided into separate markets, situated in the valley of Uzondzhovo. The traders and the craftsmen from every town or region had their own local bazaars, and the livestock and slave markets were separate. In the middle of the fair there were a big inn with lead roof, a bath, mosque, imaret and a caravanserai.
The great number of stores and stalls offered everything that was produced in these times – including gems and exotic colonial goods such as coffee, sugar, olive-oil, olives, tea. The Persian traders sold coloful shawls and carpets. The English ones – Indian fabric, tin, paints and spices, the Italian – cloth, fezes, glass, silk fabrics, the Russian – expensive leathers and firs, taffeta, books. There was a special officer appointed who was responsible for the order and the correct making of deals, and the traders and the goods sold were duty levied. There were also places for entertainment, where circus actors and animal trainers, jugglers and singers attracted crowds of spectators. Many notable Bulgarians had come to the fair such as: Rakovski, Nayden Gerov, P.R. Slaveykov, Dobri Chintulov and Hadji Dimitar.
In 1871, Levski* visited the fair and bought guns for the secret Committee. At that time, however, the market was breaking up. The fair of Uzundzhovo was held for the last time in 1876. The International Fair of Plovdiv is considered its successor. It was created in 1893 by the Bulgarian Government to revive its famous predecessor.
* Vasil Levski was a Bulgarian revolutionary and strategist of the Bulgarian national revolution and leader of the struggle for liberation from Ottoman yoke.