Horse lovers in Lithuania do not imagine winter without traditional Sartai Horse Racing. This annual fest is held in Aukštaitija National park, near the small town of Dusetos. It is already the 104th fest thus the event has more than a century long history.
According to historical sources, first horse racing on Sartai lake was held in the 19th century already. It is told that the beginning of this entertaining tradition is related with one poor young bondman. For some dealing he came to his vicious master together with his beautiful bride. The master liked the woman and he decided to take her from the young man. He claimed to arrange racing with horses on Sartai lake for him and the poor bondman. The winner must had got the beautiful bride. The rich master harnessed his proudest horses while the fellow raced with his old mare. No one knows how, but the young man won. The master still approaching to the finish line violently commanded to beat the young men. But the same minute the ice cracked and the evil minded master drowned to the bottom of the lake together with his horses and heavy sledge.
1905 was the year when the Sartai Horse Racing became an annual traditional fest. Since these times already the racing is held every first Saturday of February. In 1955 the fest was declared to be of republican importance. Since 1993 the racing was held in a run of ellipse form. Sometimes because of bad weather conditions the racing was arranged not on the lake but in a nearby hippodrome. Several years ago the race started to be held only in a hippodrome due to subsequently too thin lake ice. When the idea of global warming was very powerful and most winters in Lithuania were really muddy for the recent decade, Sartai Horse Racing did not really matched the winter fest standards.
The fest always surprises its attendants with number of attractions and
entertainments. The special Winter fair is always held there during the Sartai Horse Racing where people can buy souvenirs, hot drinks and dishes, entertaining folk chapels play their fun songs and music, so anyone can find something fun for oneself in addition to watching the Sartai Horse Racing view.