Pargauja municipality was formed in 2009 by merging Raiskums, Stalbe and Straupe parish. The administrative center is Stalbe. Pārgaujas district public life is very active. The district has four Houses of culture, with dance groups, choirs and vocal ensembles, as well as amateurs. The culture in Pargauja region has very strong roots. In Raiskuma parish for example a variety of cultural events such as Schubertiade and Small Opera Festival are held traditionally. Very popular are ice fishing tournaments on Lake Raiskums. Straupe is a medieval Hanseatic city that regularly participates in the annual Hanseatic days and also has its own Straupe Festival, which takes place every year on the third Saturday of July. In 2012 the people celebrated the 806th anniversary. Most popular event in Stalbe is the festival “Stalbe spring”, which brings together singing and dancing seniors.
Besides cultural events in the region everyone can visit ostrich and fallow farms, an underground lake, Ungurmuiža with 18th century assemblies of wooden buildings surrounded by giant oaks, Lielstraupe castle and Kvēpene oak. The region also has very active athletes. High results are reached in floorball and orienteering. Pargauja district has its own Sports Club "Pargauja" and in the beginning of 2012 a new gym has been opened. Each parish has its own emblem and book, and this year the district approved a district emblem.
Interview with Jolanta Vaido-Zalite, PR Specialist for Pargauja municipality:
How did you hear about ICN?
We heard about ICN from ICN members Vecpiebalga municipality.
Why did to join the Innovation Circle Network?
It is great opportunity to realize many international projects. Our collaboration partners Vecpiebalga municipality and Jelgava municipality are members in ICN and it will make our collaboration stronger. We also hope to find other interesting partners within ICN.
What are the biggest challenges your region is facing?
The biggest challenge after territorial reform is recognition in Latvia and Europa. Pargauja municipality is a new name that no one knew. It will take time and a lot of work to make our region more popular. Of course very important is also the welfare of the population and availability of job. Now, there are not enough jobs, that is why many choose to leave our region and go to live in other Latvian cities or even in other countries.
What in your eyes are the biggest challenges Europe is facing?
The small and economically unstable EU countries are facing crushing debt loads; there is an imparity in the economic situation between rich and poor countries. Unemployment is pressing social problems all over Europe. Many well educated people are unemployed, without any opportunity to proof their knowledge. While others just don’t want to work and live on social security.
Do you have twin cities or partnerships in the BSR or anywhere else in the world?
We have good cooperation with other Cesis region municipalities - Vecpiebalga, Jaunpiebalga, Rauna, Priekuļi, Amata. Our twin city is Spideberg in Norway. This Year we also signed a cooperation agreement with Jelgava municipality.
Why is international cooperation important for you?
It brings new experiences and new knowledge. It is an opportunity to make bigger things than you can do when you are alone and small. Together with international partners there are more opportunities to participate in different projects which are important for the development of our municipality.
Where do you see your municipality in 20 years?
Pārgaujas district in 2030 should be evenly and dynamically develop the whole territory: services - easily accessible, high-quality, technical infrastructure - a streamlined and modern, natural and human activity interact - sustainable, preserving the region's unique values - natural landscape with lakes, rivers and unpolluted environment. The county will strengthen the long-term and active government, not only at the local level with many non-governmental organizations, a successful youth policy, and many amateur teams, but also Latvian, organizing a wide variety of activities. Overall Pārgaujas region is characterized by a positive alacrity - a district formed the contemporary rural idyll with active and engaged citizens.
Why is Pargauja a good place to live?
Pargauja is a good place for living, because there is everything people need. All the necessary things are available for people living in Pargauja: primary and secondary school, grocery stores, medicine, sports, culture, leisure time. In each parish is a House of Culture with dancing groups, amateurs, choirs. Very important are traditions in each parish. Pargauja district isn’t far from Latvia’s capital Riga and here the countryside is amazing, too with forests, lakes, rivers and historical breath.