, locally known as Bergama Kermesi
, is an annual festival which dates back to 22 May 1937 in the city. It came into existence as a result of Atatürk’s intention to introduce this, an extraordinary town with its historical and cultural properties, and promote it internationally. The Festival is an important element in the collective memory of the city. Initially, it was a civic event, a device in the formation process of the Turkish Republic. However, now, it is a civil event for national and international representatives, and a festival that allows locals and guests from different social, economic, and cultural backgrounds to mix freely and equally for a certain period. In the course of the Festival, the public buildings and the open spaces of the town become places of activity and entertainment. Parks, stadiums, the town square, and streets function as spaces for a variety of activities. Looking back at its 81-year history, one can notice some important changes in the Festival’s cultural and social practices, from an earlier state-dominated character into the current more publicly oriented one. This article studies the change of Bergama Festival as an ‘invented tradition’ into an element of the collective memory in town from the perspective of different public affairs that it introduces. In this regard, the article will also show how an urban ritual can maintain its sustainability by keeping itself fresh in the social life.
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