We opened Männiku Tourist Farm in Viljandi County in 2000; at that time, we knew very little about rural tourism as a form of business.
The idea began with a newly purchased farm in a naturally picturesque location within the forest, and at first we thought of a camping house where people could stay overnight and take care of their own cooking. However, this idea did not materialise, and instead we started looking for ways to tidy up the old farm complex to receive guests.
First, we built a small hall and sauna in the old cowshed. The complex also included an old barn, but at first, it remained simply part of the scenery.
The tourist farm was successfully launched under the name Männiku Metsatalu. After a while, the need emerged for a summer shelter and then for a larger hall, i.e., a brighter room for training, seminars, weddings, birthdays, etc. We built a fully equipped kitchen to provide catering, which up until then we had ordered from elsewhere.
The additions worked well, so we were able to host a growing number of guests with different wishes.
We worked with the Ugala Theatre in staging summer performances, such as that of Little Old Men in Männiku Metsatalu, which brought a large audience and gave us good experience in running a café.
We have also worked well with the UT Viljandi Culture Academy. In our tourist complex, you can see the graduation projects of many students, which add more Estonian cultural elements here: blankets, tapestries, a smoke sauna and an adjoining holiday house.
In 2020, we hosted the big Trad.Fest! #3 music festival, organised by Trad.Attack!, the hugely popular group and winner of the Foreign Ministry’s 2020 Culture Prize. This festival will hopefully become a long tradition.