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The Warsaw Voice » Society » July 29, 2009
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St. Dominic's Fair
July 29, 2009   
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Artisans, artists and theater troupes are showing their wares in the coastal city of Gdańsk July 25-Aug. 16 as part of the annual St. Dominic's Fair, one of biggest events in the Pomerania region this summer.

The beginnings of the fair date back to 1260 when Pope Alexander IV allowed Gdańsk's Dominican friars to organize an open-air fair to celebrate their patron saint. The fair was intended to encourage city dwellers to attend a special church service that day. The festivities would open with the sound of church bells at noon.

Initially, the fair was held on Dominikański Square. Later, it was moved to an area along Wały Jagiellońskie and Długa streets. As it developed, the fair expanded to new venues, including Targ Drzewny, Targ Węglowy and Targ Rybny. Those were market places named after the commodities that were traded there: wood, coal and fish.

Some 400 ships would call in the port of Gdańsk during the August fair, bringing goods such as oriental furs and carpets, English cloth and Czech glassware. Other treats included gingerbread from the city of Toruń in the Kujawy-Pomerania region, pottery from the northern Kaszuby region, and local vodka and amber.

St. Dominic's Fair was organized in Gdańsk every year until the start of World War II in 1939. The event was revived in 1972 as an initiative by Wojciech ¦więcicki, a journalist with local evening newspaper Wieczór Wybrzeża. In the 1970s, the fair was a place where consumers could buy many goods that were in short supply at the time.

Today St. Dominic's Fair combines business with fun. The fair comprises a wide range of events, including concerts, food tastings, theater performances, and street art shows. The event is a major attraction for tourists visiting Gdańsk.

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