27 May 2021

Mykola Bagrayev: the history of the festival South

At the time of Ukraine’s independence, the ambitious businessman Mykola Bagrayev was only 27 years old. He moved to the Kherson region from North Ossetia, then studied at the local agricultural institute, worked as an engineer for two years and headed the Kakhovka Komsomol.

In the early 1990s, Mykola Bagrayev had a dream to organize his own music festival with the participation of world stars. The demand for it was insane – both Bagrayev himself and people in the surrounding area had previously lived behind the Iron Curtain in the music underground. It was then that the neighbours from Novokakhovka held an interesting event “Rock and Roll Tavriya”, and the entrepreneur had the idea to make an even better project. To carry out his dream he engaged in business, namely trade.

Thus, on August 21, 1992, the Tavriya Games festival, dedicated to the first anniversary of Ukraine’s independence and the 500th anniversary of the Ukrainian Cozacks, started in Kakhovka. The Games took place at the Avangard Stadium in the city centre. There were more than 30 artists, mostly foreigners. They lived on the ship Lesya Ukrainka. The so-called mobile flats turned out to be an ideal way to compensate for the lack of proper hotel infrastructure in Kakhovka at that time.

Every year the festival is overgrown with new ideas, concepts, becoming a key musical event in the country. Eventually, the action turned into an annual display concert, where Ukrainian performers and musicians showed their latest work. For several years, the Golden Firebird Award was presented during the festival. Such world-famous bands as Deep Purple, Status Quo and Scorpions performed on the stage of the Games.

“We were young and full of romance. We wanted to have a big holiday, we wanted people to feel good, make something they will remember and look forward to. We still didn’t know anything yet. We were just young, we were overwhelmed by the desire to work, and we worked”,

Mykola Bagrayev said.

In 1998, at the height of the holiday season in Skadovsk, Kherson region, on the Black Sea coast, Mykola Bagrayev founded a new festival of a completely different format – “Chornomorya Games”. It was a completely different format, the largest and most prestigious charity children’s festival in Ukraine. Its goal was to find and develop talented children in Ukraine. But in 2013, due to lack of funds, the festival was not held and only returned to the South of Ukraine only four years later. However, the Covid-19 pandemic soon caused another unplanned halt to the festival and it had to be postponed again.

On May 27, 2021, the Kherson Regional State Administration, Kherson Regional Council, and the Ukrainian Tavriya Charitable Foundation signed a Memorandum on holding the XVIII Ukrainian Charitable Children’s Festival “Chornomorya Games”, which will be held on August 20-22 in Skadovsk which marks the 30th anniversary of the independence of Ukraine. Festival participants and their parents will be tested for COVID-19, and all events will be held in the open air in accordance with the mask-wearing and social distance rules.

“The Black Sea Games have become a great motivator for children, because if you look at the history of the festival, Tina Karol, Yulia Sanina, Ivan Dorn, Nastya Kamenskykh, Nadia Dorofeeva and many other talented performers participated in it. It is important for children to see the example of Ukrainian megastars who were once in their shoes on this stage, ” –

Mykola Bagrayev said.

In total, the Ukrainian Tavriya Charitable Foundation turned the Tavriya Games into a domestic brand and held more than 1,040 various events under its own brand. The city of Kakhovka has forever remained the music capital of Ukraine. It would seem that the festival created just a holiday. But in fact, due to the national following of the festival, the annual event of this scale attracted the attention of investors and worked to reveal the tourist potential of the Kherson region, because the whole of Ukraine takes the courses of the festival. According to Bagrayev, there were contributions of up to $100,000 thousand from one sponsor. In some years, the budget of the event reached $0.8-1 million.

Local residents of Kakhovka recall that before the festival, the city actively adjusted the infrastructure and improved the system of services for tourists and festival participants. Every year the city developed significantly. This was the beginning of the city of Kakhovka becoming one of the richest communities in the Kherson region, where per capita there is more than 8.5 thousand UAH of local budget revenues. Now there is a developed infrastructure, and hotel and restaurant businesses. The community has industrial potential and comfortable living conditions.

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