2nd Day of Wierobieja Street
The second edition of the celebration of this oldest street in the city is behind us. It was here that the first neon sign in Hajnówka and the first self-service store appeared. No matter how one begins the story of this street and its celebration, it will always be a story about people. About those who used to live and work here, about those who organized the event, and finally about those who had a great time at it.
Last Saturday (August 5), Ryszard Pater, the author of historical books about the city and its surroundings, a treasure trove of knowledge about the old times and its inhabitants, took Hajnówka resident on a trip into the past. Some participants came to Hajnówka especially for this historical walk. When it comes to Wierobeja Street, there is something to talk about. It was here that the legendary confectioner ran his shop, to which mothers sent their children on Sundays, saying: “Run to Drewnowski’s for Napoleon cakes.” Another legendary workshop also operated here – a photographic one. It belonged to Andrzejewski. He was the first person in Wierobieja to buy a car after the war. At a time when people usually walked or drove carts, the car made an impression. In turn, the wooden building, now abandoned and intended for sale, to which ancient-style columns have been added, housed the first self-service store in Hajnówka. It was here that the first neon sign in the city appeared.
Listening to various memories, it is hard to resist the impression that the adjective “first” fits Wierobiej Street, and for many reasons. The first shop, the first neon sign, the first car… It’s no wonder, it was once the “first” street in the city. Both before and after the war, a center of all kinds of services. You came here to sell, buy, gossip, drink, eat, and do business. Street Day was also part of this convention. Day of Wierobeja Street(1st edition took place on August 6, 2022). It was the first such idea. It was possible to implement it thanks to Norwegian funds as part of the “Hajnówka ReNewal – Green Transformation” project. On the day of the event, the street was bustling with life again, with crowds and loud shouting. Although these were not the shouts of calling traders, as in the past, but of residents having a great time. The first edition turned out to be a hit. The organizers received a lot of warm words and many declarations of participation in the second edition.
The same group of enthusiasts, about ten people in total, started organizing the second one. The application for the competition under Norwegian funds was submitted by the “Metamorphosis” Association, and the organizational group was taken over by the team from Akcja Hajnówka. Some of them are the same people – they work in both the association and the Action. The latter is an informal group. It is, of course, made up of Hajnówkas – people of different ages, working in different professions, having different life experiences. However, what unites them is their love for this city. And the willingness to work together for its benefit.
We want to arouse pro-social attitudes in people, to convince them that it is up to them what will happen in this city – they say. – But don't quote any of us by name – they ask. – Nobody represents anyone here. We work together.
They emphasize that they are volunteers. And that anyone can join them if they have an idea and would like to share it. People start to trust and support them. This was visible during the organization of the 2nd Day of Wierobeja Street, but also during the first edition. Many people volunteered to help – entrepreneurs, representatives of institutions, and simply residents. Some offered to donate gadgets as prizes in competitions, others offered to lend equipment, and still others offered good advice.
This is how this event was organized – together. And even though everything was ready on August 5, the organizers felt anxious. Reason? Weather. The worst possible. It was raining, windy, thundering and flashing. And so on throughout the week preceding the event. The organizers watched the forecasts with concern. Finally, there was a glimmer of hope. It will clear up on Saturday afternoon, the portals reported. Although there was no sign of this in the morning, and the tents were set up in the pouring rain. Whether prayers, shamanic dances performed for the rain to stop, or the organizers’ constant good mood helped – it is not known. The fact is that the sun came out, it got hot, and the team from Akcja Hajnówka breathed a sigh of relief.
The weather turned out to be kind, but the fear of whether people would come remained. When the clock struck 4 p.m., the organizers lined up in front of the stage. The Hajnówka orchestra, which was to march through Wierobeja with pomp, was also already in tight formation. The musicians are waiting for the signal. “But where are these people?” the organizers wondered frantically. “Start and wait for them to join? Here we go!”
The orchestra has started, we are watching, and the crowds are following it! That's where everyone lined up! But then we felt relief and emotion. – The organizers even now have tears in their eyes.
Indeed, the turnout was great. Many fans of the orchestra came to support the musicians during the march. The historical walk also met with great interest and positive reception. Ryszard Pater seduced crowds with his stories. Not only the inhabitants came to listen to him, but also those who came from here but left; the older ones and the younger ones.
And then there was fun. Wierobieja was closed to cars for the duration of the event. There are stands with various attractions along the street. Those who were thirsty could try products from Browar Markowy. There was also delicious homemade potato cake and bigos. For history lovers, the organizers have prepared an exhibition of photos showing what Wierobieja looked like years ago. Every now and then someone would come up and compare which houses were still there and which were gone. People exchanged memories. Time and time again, during the photos, one could hear: “Do you remember…”?
“Oh, it used to happen here,” recalls a middle-aged man with the appearance of a rocker. – There were plenty of shops and services. When there was no shopping center and markets, everyone came here to shop. It is unlikely that it will be possible to restore it, but maybe at least some cultural events could take place here, just like now? - wonders.
He came to listen to the Hajnówka band London ’70 live. It was a strong punk rock concert. A reminder of the sounds this city was once famous for. And which many people still listened to with pleasure.
I came to see the exhibition of old cars, or rather motorcycles – says a brunette with a beard. – I rode WSK when I was young and it remains a sentimental feeling.
Some came to see the concert, others to dance, others to recall. There were also those who simply wanted to be among people. To meet friends, to talk. This event united communities, generations, musical tastes and flavors. And Vierobeia was again, if only for one day, the most important street in the city.