To many, a festival where the main theme is fish would not seem very appealing, but in Lithuania, it is quite the opposite. Last Saturday, the study abroad students had the chance to attend a traditional Lithuanian festival in Palanga, a small town about a 20-minute bus ride from Klaipėda. The Palanga “Stinta” or Fish Festival is held every year throughout the main streets of the city and leading out to the Palanga sea pier. The festival is set up similarly to a market with vendors lined up to sell various food, handmade goods, and of course, fish. This event is very popular with people all over Lithuania and draws very large crowds each year. This year especially was crowded with people walking around to bargain with the various vendors, to sample various food items and to walk along the pier that leads out to the Baltic Sea. It was a great opportunity for students to be introduced to Lithuanian traditions and delicious food.
To start the day, a few of the study abroads took a packed bus to Palanga from the bus station. After a short walk to the city center, the group split up and explored the festival on their own. Along the main street, there were tons of vendors lining both sides of the street selling fish prepared in various ways, along with other fried food like our favorite, kepta duona. One of the best foods my friends and I tried was the fried dough with powdered sugar!
Besides finding many tempting food options, A few students had the chance to watch or even join with Lithuanians doing traditional dances in the square. Some of the vendors lining the streets were selling homemade goods such as hand-knit gloves and socks, intricate woodwork, and other vibrant souvenirs as well. This gave us the chance to buy something for friends and family at home or for ourselves to remember the day.
Although fish is the main draw of the event, it was enjoyable for both those of us who enjoy fish and those of us that don’t (like me). There’s so much more to this weekend-long festival and I would recommend it to all future spring semester students to attend in order to experience the people and culture of Lithuania!
-Emily Boone, Eastern University