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Change upon cattle fair, to get an artful touch
- Tourism department plans to set up artisan village at Sonepur event from this year

The state’s historic Sonepur fair will not be just about cattle this time.

The tourism department has decided to upgrade the annual month-long fair in November. From this year, it would accommodate an arts and crafts event aimed at encouraging local artists.

Deepak Prasad, principal secretary, tourism, said the department was working on the plan to make the fair different from this time. Officials said the fair — it usually starts on Kartik Poornima — would start in mid-November.

Although the exact date when the fair would begin will be decided by next week, sources said it is expected to be November 16.

“The Sonepur fair is historic and has been going on since the time of Chandragupta Maurya. It is primarily a rural fair and people come to sell and buy cattle. But this time, the tourism department wants to change it a little. We want to focus on arts and crafts,” said Deepak.

Officials in the department added that the fair would have an artisan village on the premises where many artists from the state would put up their work for sale.

Another department official told The Telegraph: “There are many artists working on different forms.There are sculptors and people working with handlooms and handicrafts. There are many artists who have not received their due recognition and are living in the dark. The department wants to tap into these people and provide them a platform at the Sonepur fair.”

He added: “Their work of art needs to be encouraged and displayed at the fair visited by lakhs of people, including foreigners. The artists will be contacted with help from the industries department, industry bodies and other sources. The art, culture and youth affairs department, too, would be contacted. The artists would be encouraged to come to the fair and display their work at the artisan village. Their work will enjoy a wider exposure thanks to the foreign nationals.”

Sources said all forms of arts and crafts would be displayed at the village.

“The artists won’t be charged to put up the stalls. Normally, apart from cattle, items for household use are sold at the fair. Although it is a rural fair, people from urban areas and outside the country visit it. So, the department wants to change its nature, right now confined to cattle and theatres. The artists will be told to display small items that can be easily carried around by the visitors,” an official said.