The Association of Hungarian Folk Artists (AHFA/NESZ) is a 40 year-old, non-governmental organisation which brings together 64 Folk Associations, Craft Workshops, and Art Houses from all over the country. Currently, it has a membership of more than 5,000 people. Since it’s foundation, the fundamental aim of the Association has been to support the values of the Hungarian folk crafts, the alliance of people interested in the folk arts, and the creation of new regional associations and organisations.
The Association is responsible for the professional membership, the continuous contact with the member associations and the creative houses, the co –ordination of their activity, as well as ensuring the mutual exchange of information. From the very beginning, the Association of Hungarian Folk Artists has organised and conducted events, exhibitions, fairs, professional applications, professional trainings, camps and conferences.
Every year since 1987, AHFA hosts the biggest national event in Hungary, the Festival of Folk Arts, at the Buda Castle. In this historic environment, visitors can learn the complex traditional folk crafts directly from the craft masters. The four day festival is filled with workshops where craftsman teach their audience the process of creation. Guests of all ages can learn the basic elements of folk traditions which include: woodcarving, smithing, pottery, weaving, embroidery, indigo dying (blueprinting), laces, felting, leather works, egg painting, and gingerbread making. In addition to the folk art demonstrations, artisans also sell their crafts. The main stage will feature traditional Hungarian and international singers, dancers, and bands to enjoy. Throughout the day audiences can delight themselves by watching comedy shows, street theatre, puppet shows and children’s programs. Every evening, guests are invited to learn traditional folk dancing as well. On August 20, there will be the customary ceremony to bless the new bread (the harvest celebration) and a parade to celebrate St. Stephen’s Day.
One of the cornerstones of our work at AHFA is to make the values of traditional folk crafts appealing to young people. We wanted to give future generations an opportunity to learn and love the diverse and rich heritage of Hungarian folk crafts. Preservation, creation and traditionalism are the values that continually define our work. We aim to share these values with the youth, at the age when they are most impressionable, through interactive programs where they can learn as a result of experience. By encouraging participation in these projects, our hope is that young people will discover the beauty and dedication needed to continue these traditions. We also hope that they will start to produce crafts through wool, wicker, wood, fabric or other materials. By doing so, they begin the journey of a craftsman and carry on the traditions of Hungarian culture. Our youth-training programs are valuable because they contribute to society with businesses while preserving the heritage of our country.