On July 16th, 2015 we learned about

The people of Berezniki celebrate blood sucking while withstanding the ground sinking

The town of Berezniki, in the Ural mountains, is holding what has become the annual Russian Mosquito Festival. Three days of activities are planned, all celebrating or enduring people’s relationship as food for irritating blood-suckers. It’s all tongue-in-cheek, with events purposely designed to be “absurd,” which is probably a good coping mechanism when you live in a place otherwise famous for being besieged by sink-holes.

On the light-hearted side of things, the Mosquito festival will include a parade with costumes, music, and a twist on a beauty pageant. The pageant will be to crown Ms. Mosquito Legs, looking for the longest, skinniest and presumably most insect-like legs in town. On the more excruciating side of things, there will also be a “Tastiest Girl” competition. Participants will stand for 20 minutes to be bitten by the mosquitoes near the municipal pond, trying to accumulate the most bites. Whoever has the highest bite count after 20 minutes wins. Event organizer Natalya Paramonova noted that in her opinion, the insects prefer healthier people that “eat well, don’t drink and don’t smoke,” although there’s little scientific evidence for that claim at the moment. The current record to beat is 100 bites.

Problems bigger than bug bites

While not exactly the most traditional forms of revelry, the Mosquito Festival is certainly a more pleasant reason to be in the news than sink-holes. After a freshwater spring began eroding salt pillars in a potash mine in 2006, sink-holes have been threatening the town. At the time, the mayor stated that they would not consider relocating, and indeed electronic surveillance has done a good job of predicting sink-holes before they cause real harm. Collapses have continued, with one happening this February, although Berezniki’s major infrastructure is said to be holding up. Still, some 12,000 residents have moved away in the last decade to avoid massive holes up to 340 yards wide and 50 stories deep. Whether or not the Mosquito Festival is enough to lure them back remains to be seen.

 

Source: Insect-Loving Russians Gearing Up for Annual Mosquito Festival, The Moscow Times

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