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Kriukai eldership


 Eldership center: Kriukai village

 Larger settlements: Lieporai, Bučiūnai, Blauzdžiūnai

The Kriukai Eldership covers 11,985.12 hectares, of which 652.38 hectares consist of forest and 267.07 hectares of water. There is fertile soil in the territory of the Eldership. The Rivers Lieporas, Svitinys, Virciuvis, Juodupe, Seseve can be found here. The Eldership unites 52 villages with the centre of Kriukai settlement, located 16 km to the east of Joniškis. The Kriukai Eldership has borders with the Zeimelis and Pasvitinys Elderships of the Pakruojis district, the Saugelaukis and Kepaliai Elderships of the Joniskis district and the Latvian Republic. The Kriukai settlement celebrated its  420th anniversary in 2006. The Kriukai coat-of-arms and flag were created on this occasion.

A Ziemgalian (Semigallian) tribe used to dwell here in pagan times. Today this fact is confirmed by the old graves in Giluciai and Dvareliskiai. According to historians, there are a number of theories regarding the origin of the local name. In ancient times Kriukai locations were marshy and one of the theories is that the name came from the wily ancient Baltic deity Kriugas or Kriukis who lived in the swamps. On the basis of another theory, the origin of the name Kriukai is connected with Lieporai manor house, as a merchant called Povilas Kriukas used to live in the surrounding area.

In 1752 St Laurence‘s church was built in Kriukai; there were also a dozen shops, pubs, a slaughter-house and busy markets. There used to be a large Jewish community. In 1864 a primary school opened its doors. At the beginning of the 20th century there used to be beautiful manor-estates here: Melguze, Vengriskis, Jackoniai, Judeikiai, Mazieji Liesiai, Nociunai, Latveliskis and Lieporai.  In 1994 an Independence Monument was built in memory of those who had been killed for the freedom of Lithuania. Also in 1994, a stone monument was erected in memory of partisans of 1945 who had been killed in the Kriukai forest.

Today the Kriukai Eldership is proud of the renovated Kriukai basic school and of the dedicated teachers working there. There is a dispensary, two village medical dispensaries, a post office, libraries, a cultural centre, shops (the closed joint-stock company “Baltijos gėrimai” (Baltic Drinks)), and the G. Vilimas and Darginiai agricultural communities. Three agricultural communities work here successfully: Darginiai, Buciunai and Dvareliskiai.

There are six village communities: “Sodžius” in Lieporai village, “Šešėvė’ in Kriukai, “Ąžuolynas” (Oak-trees) in Blauzdziunai, “Skakai” in Skakai village, “Šilas” in Darginiai village and “Lagūna” in Buciunai village. The elderly people’s association of the Kriukai area encourages and develops active cultural, sports and educational activities in the eldership. The Kriukai amateur theatre group, preserving deep and old traditions, is greatly respected not only in the district, but in the Republic.

Folklore artists and other amateur groups make the Eldership famous. Kriukai is proud of its Škapliernėlė (latin. scapulare, pol. szkaplerz) church festival that attracts people from Lithuania and abroad who used to live and grew up in this area. The Eldership residents not only participate in various festivals but are also active sportsmen and sportswomen. Some traditional sports festivals are held here every year.