Mini-herders ready for reindeer action

Seven year old Vasya (to the left) was one of many kids participating in the challenging reindeer race in Lovozero.

LOVOZERO: The annual “Reindeer herder’s day” in the Sámi village on the Kola Peninsula celebrated its 80th anniversary this weekend.


Concerts, dance shows and a marked place full of traditional Sámi and Komi handicraft were open and free of charge for the public.  But the most popular happening was the reindeer race where men, women and children participated. 

The first prize this year was the Russian snowmobile “Tundra”, sponsored by local business owners and organizations in the municipality of Lovozero, located 164 kilometers southeast of Murmansk.

People from all over the Murmansk region, as well as guests from Petrozavodsk and  scandinavian neighbor countries, travelled to Lovozero to celebrate the special day.   

Future herders
On a sledge, surrounded by beautifully decorated reindeers, sits three exited, but serious looking young boys. Very soon they will be competing at the stadium. Vasya (7) is participating in the race for the first time and is discussing tactics with his older brother Vitya (11).

“You have to chase the reindeers as much as you can,” says Vitya. “The most critical moment is when you have to make the reindeers turn and force them back to the stadium. Then they can start running into the woods instead,” he explains.  

The boys are from a Sámi reindeer herder family and Vasya is certain he will end up as a herder too, just like his father.  

“My dream is to work with reindeers every day,” he says. “Life might be hard at the tundra, but most of the time it`s fun,” he says, smiling.   

Welcomes the spring
The celebration is always happening in the spring when the reindeer herders prepare for their migration towards the shores of the Barents Sea. This is a tradition in many reindeer herders` communities, not only in Russia, but also in the other Barents countries.