Kelmė district municipality

  Administrative centre – Kelmė
  Area – 1705 km² (20 % of the county’s area)
  Population – 38 057 (10.9 % of the county’s population)
  Wards – Kelmė, Kelmė parish, Kražiai, Kukečiai, Lioliai, Pakražantis,   Šaukėnai, Tytuvėnai parish, Tytuvėnai, Užventis, Vaiguva

Kelmė district municipality is located in the south-western part of Šiauliai county, on the Vidurio (Central) Žemaičiai Lowland and Rytų (Eastern) Žemaičiai Plateau. There are as many as 7 reserves (Šilkainiai geomorphological, Šatrija landscape, etc.), part of the territory of the Tytuvėnai, Kurtuvėnai, Dubysa, Varniai regional parks. The region is crossed by the Dubysa and the Venta rivers with tributaries. There are as many as 53 lakes (the largest whereof – Gauštvinis, Gludas, Bridvaišis, Karklėnai), 10 ponds (Aunuvėnai, Kentriai, Pašiaušė). The largest forests – Vainagiai, Patumšiai, Padubysis, Tytuvėnai. There are about 10 parks, the better known whereof – that of Pagryžuvys. Agricultural land makes up 56.9 %, forests – 28.4 %, roads – 1.6 %, built-up area – 1.9 %, water bodies – 2.4 %, other land – 8.8 % of the municipality.

There are three towns – Kelmė, Tytuvėnai, Užventis, and six townships – Karklėnai, Kražiai, Lioliai, Pašilė, Šaukėnai and Žalpiai.

The centre of the district municipality – Kelmė. The date of foundation of the town is considered the year 1484, when the first church was built there. The Kelmė estate was first mentioned in the 15th century. In 1591, the Kelmė estate with a township was acquired by Jonas Gruževskis. The family of Gruževskis owned the estate for more than 300 years. Kelmė is the place where the flag of the uprising of 1831 was first hoisted. In 1915–1917 and 1945–1950, Kelmė was a county centre.

It is a typical agricultural district. In the field of industry, food production prevails. Peat mining and manufacture of flax fibre are developed. Tourism is one of the priority development areas of Kelmė district. Located at the historical Via Hansa highway, Kelmė attracts visitors with the diversity of its landscape: marvellous meanders of the Dubysa, Venta and other rivers, clear lakes, abundance of heritage objects.

Important cultural monuments are the church of St Mary Magdalene in Užventis, ensembles of churches of St Simon and Jude Thaddeus in Lioliai and of the Immaculate Conception in Kražiai, a church in Palendriai, an ensemble of a church of St Mary the Virgin and a monastery in Tytuvėnai, a mansion in Pagryžuvys, tumuli.

There are more than 70 folk artists in the district, who exhibit their works at various folk art exhibitions. Patrons of ethnical culture annually (in July) organise contests of ethnical music and crafts, in the course whereof technique of various ancient crafts and playing old folk instruments, ritual chanting is taught. Biennial camps of stonemasons to the memory of J. Liaudanskis are organised; works created by sculptors later adorn the town. Annual traditional events – folk art festival, Tytuvėnai summer festival, national festival Linas, a week of Gregorian chant and church tradition studies Ad Fontes, an international theatre festival Kelmės scena, district choirs festival (biennial), cultural and sports festival Venta, Venta, Venta – tu žemaičiui šventa, a festival of country choirs and folklore groups Graži mūsų šeimynėlė, folk music festival Stasinės, art song festival Rudens romansas, vocal music festival Daina – sielos sparnai, humour festival Vištos koja, and others. The district is famed for its mixed choir Cantio, folk music choirs Kelmynė, Venta, Meldai, the well-known folk dance groups Putinėlis, Gludas, Patrepsėlis, folklore groups Taduja, Ramočia, Judlė, Knytuva, folk art club Medeinė, an ethnographical ensemble of Šaukėnai cultural centre. Many concerts are organised by a popular band Intriga; vocal ensembles Vakarė, Sidabrinė gija, Anima, female vocal ensembles of Užventis cultural centre, Darna, Cantika gained public recognition.

Useful links
Kelmė district municipality