The IDAHO Rocky Mountain EXPRESS from Burley, Idaho completed a successful adventure in Turkey this summer. The team of 34 stayed in Turkey attended two festivals near Istanbul. The Buyukeckmece festival was voted one of the best in the world last year. It is a very well organized and featured 20 excellent teams from around the world. The festival also included a large folk arts fair featuring artists from Turkey and other countries, popular music entertainers, children’s art fair and many political visitors. The festival had its own theme song, a club for dancing every night, cruise on the Bosporus and tours around Istanbul. The festival was a competition and the IDAHO EXPRESS won the judges choice award. Each night the teams entertained and were entertained by some of Turkey’s best in a large outdoor amphitheater. Large firework displays began and ended the festival. The second festival was the Silivri Yogurt and Folk Festival. The parades wound along the Marmara Sea. Our team was put up in a beautiful 5 star hotel with swimming pool and Turkish bath house with great marble slabs in steamy rooms. Each night the team performed a few numbers and stayed to watch other teams and local entertainment. After each show we were treated with guess what?!; All the fresh yoghurt we could eat.
To prepare for the tour Jonathan McCollum a history professor from BYU spoke to the team. He taught a little history and culture and created enthusiasm for the trip. The team held many fundraisers including dinner shows to raise money. The team under the direction of Kristine Handy and Melissa Morgan included 24 dancers, one folk arts specialist and 9 band members. The bluegrass band included guitar, banjo, 3 fiddle players, bass and percussion.
“It was an amazing life altering experience in a faraway place. We found the country of Turkey welcoming, progressive and safe. We could have spent days and lots of money finding treasures in the Grand Bazaar’s labyrinth of shops. It could take months exploring Istanbul’s historical sites and intriguing places. We were shown Turkish hospitality at its best.”
The Idaho Rocky Mountain Express has invitations to festivals in France for a 2014 tour.