WOODEN TOYS FROM LEŻAJSK
The tradition of making wooden toys in the Leżajsk region, as it is called in the available literature on this subject in the Rzeszów centre, dates back to the 18th century. The first toys came from the hands of the cottage workers, who were busy with this craft in their free time.
The development of toy making in Leżajsk and the surrounding area was influenced by fairs and indulgences, which took place several times a year at the monastery of the Bernardine Fathers.
Crowds of the faithful visiting the sanctuary purchased toys, hence more and more local people began making them. The first wooden toy factory in Leżajsk was opened in 1909 by Mr Marian Garbacki who, for several years, had learned his profession in the famous toy centre in Yavoriv, Ukraine. From there, he also brought the first designs for toys, though he made sure that those produced in Leżajsk differed from them. New, more and more interesting designs of toys were created, including moving toys, which were very popular. In 1950, the Cepelian toy-producing cooperative »Cottage worker« was established in the town, which gathered producers from the majority of Leżajsk and the surrounding area. Currently, only a few people in the town make toys, none of them commercially; they are only the products of passion for the handicraft. The most popular traditional wooden toys from Leżajsk include: a bird toy, a britzka, a tapping woodpecker, a man going up and down a ladder, a bang-stick, a pipe, pecking cocks, a magic board. It is worth noting that in 2000 at the world exhibition EXPO in Hanover the bird toy was used to promote the tourist attractions of Podkarpackie. The tradition of making wooden toys in Leżajsk is, however, maintained to a small extent. The Museum of the Leżajsk Territory, therefore, undertakes many actions to preserve it, among others through continuous contact with manufacturers and promotion of toys at various fairs. In addition, there is a toy workshop at the museum. The most popular toys are made there, which are sold in the museum shop and on the website www.zabawki-lezajskie.pl There is also a Toy Display prepared for visitors of the museum, which allows them to become acquainted with the history of Leżajsk toy making, as well as to see old toys and tools used for their production. In addition, a very interesting attraction has been created in Leżajsk, the Leżajsk Toy Park, in which there are giant toys.