Yesterday I joined a press trip to the village of Karanlık to hear the organisers of this year's Vine Harvest Festival give an appraisal of the festival's impact. This was only the third time the event has happened in Mumcular: the first was a great success, the second a damp squib, but the third has been declared a winner. Visitor and exhibitor numbers were up by 30% and a greater variety of produce was on show. I was away in Greece but hear that I missed new businesses making tomato jam and bitter gourd remedies as well as a multitude of cheeses, carpets, kilims, olive oils and wine. I was sad not to see Travelling Joy's fig tart demonstration (click on the link for the recipe) and I also missed lectures on olive oil production and cheese making. A procession through Bodrum on the Friday before the festival was credited for the increase in visitors, although I noticed posters and flyers up a couple of months before - unusual here where advertising is a very last minute affair.
Karaova-Der, the association responsible, under the leadership of Ali Öztürk, is keen to present their pastoral area as an antidote to the citification of the Bodrum peninsula. If agricultural and rural activities can be revived and made profitable, the next generation of villagers may not be bused out to work in mass tourism, but stay local and find employment in Eco tourism or countyside boutique hotels.
This is of course music to my ears. When we built our house and moved to Karaova 25 years ago, most of our friends thought we were mad. It's nice to know that others are happy to sing Karaova's praises, even if it has taken a quarter of a century.