From the old days on the Rozhen meadows old churches of Christian saints were revered; saints whose feasts are within two months – July and August. In 1898, Father Angel Indjov, a priest in Sokolovtsi village was the first one to come up with a general concept of a fair on these lands, summoning parishioners to honor all the saints of the Rozhen chapels on the day of St. Pantaleon – July 27. Rozhen gradually became a place where once a year relatives and friends could share both pain and joy. As days went by generations turned those meetings into tradition by organizing family and friendly gatherings of the Rhodope people – not just the natives of the area, but also the ones deported to the heart of the country.
63 years passed and in August 1961 a singing competition gathering took place which lasted for three days. The emblem of the Rhodope Mountains was born soon after – the distinctive bagpipe orchestra of “100 bagpipes” led by Apostol Kisyov. Although over the years the Rozhen Festival has sought its social significance through various national festivals for tourists, motorists, etc., it did not lose its essential purpose – namely to serve as a central stage for the beautiful Rhodopian folklore. Evidence for this are the numerous amateur performers and the growing audience in the subsequent editions. In 1993 the festival was declared national, as various artists from all around the country were invited to demonstrate the rich folk heritage of Bulgaria. It had last been conducted in 2006. For eight years after Rozhen remained silent, the meadows did not accommodate excited people, seduced by the magic of folklore.
With its centennial history, the Rozhen Festival preserves the traditions and evokes the spirit of the Bulgarian. It is a peculiar heritage, in which we find our very own identity as a nation.
Our Association “Rozhen – our Heritage in the Future”, with the cooperation of the Municipality of Smolyan, has both the ambition and the resources to restore it, by means of affirming and further developing the agricultural and ethnocultural aspect of the event, thus asserting the authenticity of the Rhodopian culture and folklore. This will emphasize the concord of tradition and modernity, of history and present, of heritage and future perspectives in livestock breeding, the latter being a traditional occupation and foundation of customs and culture, folklore, crafts and the respective shares of Bulgarian economics. This is the path to establishing such values, which are to be adopted by the younger generation and later transfered into the future ones.