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The Golden Eagle Festival

Brenda Boucher, Volunteer Advisor December 5, 2017

My third trip to Mongolia with CESO has given me even more insight into the diverse and intriguing lives of Mongolians and a better appreciation of the contrasting landscapes. My first two assignments afforded me the opportunity to experience the urban landscape of Ulaanbaatar and the sprawling countryside of Dornod Province in Eastern Mongolia, but this time I decided to come a week early to witness the annual Golden Eagle Festival in Bayan-Ölgii, the westernmost aimag in Mongolia. The festival is an annual competition that celebrates the esteemed eagle hunters of the aimag and their culture.

Bayan-Ölgii is unique among the aimags of Mongolia in that it is predominantly Muslim, and most the population are Kazakhs. Here I had hands-on experience with the participants of the Golden Eagle Festival and gained incredible insight into the daily lives of the local herding families. I spent a day eagle hunting with Armon, the winner of this year’s festival, and another three days hunting with the family of 2014’s winner, the famous Aisholpan, who was featured in the documentary “The Eagle Huntress”.

After the festival I returned to Choibalsan in Dornod province for my third CESO assignment, where I continued the work I began in May. Through practical, hands-on technical assistance and one-on-one mentoring with the specialists in the Governor’s Office, I was able to assist with measureable goal setting and implementation plans for their 2018 Annual Plan. Dornod has 14 districts, known locally as soums, and I was able to start the process with two Governors in the soums of Bayandun and Khalkh-Gol. While in Dornod, I also had the opportunity to visit two herding families who have become successful, independent entrepreneurs following a pilot project 10 years ago when they were given 20 sheep to start a herding business.

These were all fascinating experiences. Thank you to CESO for the opportunity to learn and share!





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