How did the Split Food Festival Fare?

Total Croatia News

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Davorka Jurekovic/Pixsell

The Split Food Festival took place over the weekend of the 1st and 2nd September 2017, how did it fare compared to its Pula and Zagreb counterparts?

Food, glorious food. Having worked in some of the best restaurants around the world and lived in cities where gastronomy is closer to a religion than a passing trend, whenever there is mention of a food festival, if I can be there, I will.

When I saw that the Split Food Festival was to taking place over the weekend and read chicken fajita, lamb tzatziki, goulaš, blue cheese burger… my mouth was already watering, so, I took myself down to see what it was all about.

And, I have to say, when I walked in, I was disappointed. Not because of the set-up or offering – which was super-cute, but because there were very few people there. Ok, I went at a weird time, between 3.30pm – 4.30pm due to other commitments; but still, walking the streets of Split on the way to the Festival, every restaurant was full and there was no shortage of bodies filling the streets.

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Credit: Tash Pericic, Split, September 2nd 2017

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Credit: Tash Pericic, Split, September 2nd 2017

So, to walk into a festival which was trying to bring something new to the city of Split and see it near-empty was a little sad, to say the least.

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Davorka Jurekovic/Pixsell

Luckily for me, it meant – well, no queues but also, that I happened to get chatting to the organiser who came up to ask if there was anything she could help me with. She ended up joining me while I sat down, tucked into a fajita and learned a little more about the whole project.

The Croatian Food Festival was started by Lana Klingor in 2013; this year, the festival took place in Zagreb, Pula, and Split was added to the lineup for the first time. Lana said by the festival’s second year in Zagreb, really exploded, she feels like she paved the way for street food festivals but how is hers different?

Well, the stalls aren’t sponsored or paid for by different restaurants, Lana sources the Chefs for each ‘house’ herself and all recipes are her own. The chefs all come from various restaurants around Zagreb and take the day off work to support Lana. Food is her passion, which is easily noted by the fact that Lana won Croatia’s MasterChef 2016 – you would think this would be enough to get people interested…

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Davorka Jurekovic/Pixsell

It is a huge risk to undertake such a festival by yourself, while there were sponsors like Pan and Kia, Lana has not tried to get any support from local tourist boards. With running costs around €10,000, she relies on genuine public interest for the Festival’s success.

Her greatest success has been in Zagreb, with attendance numbers reaching around 12,000 – which meant preparation of tonnes of meat and Lana spending days in the meat factory to prepare and ensure the quality of the product.

We wrote about the festival in Total Split and it was featured in various Croatian publications, so it makes me wonder about the lack of attendance. The weather definitely played a role as rain was forecast for both days, though it was a perfect day with clear-blue skies while I was there. The location of Stari Plac is perhaps a little out of the way; I went there purposefully but I doubt many would just stumble upon it, which it a shame because it was very cool to see picnic tables set-up on a grassy area.

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Davorka Jurekovic/Pixsell

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Davorka Jurekovic/Pixsell

Are tourists really paying attention to what is going on in the cities they visit or are they just following the well-worn path to all of the main attractions? Are the locals interested in supporting unique events like this? I have heard from many people that getting momentum with anything in Split is almost like pulling teeth sometimes – whether it be food, music or the arts.

Whatever the case, for those that didn’t go, you missed out on great food, atmosphere, games, and giveaways.

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Davorka Jurekovic/Pixsell

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Davorka Jurekovic/Pixsell

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Davorka Jurekovic/Pixsell

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Davorka Jurekovic/Pixsell

Attendance at the Pula and Zagreb festivals was between 4,000 – 10,000, whereas Lana informed me the [unofficial] number for Split visitors was about 1,500 – 2,000. However, she is still optimistic and said they will probably return next year but maybe to a new location.

Bravo to Lana and her team for bringing something new to Split and I am glad I had the opportunity to meet such a motivated, entrepreneur. You can look forward to our Total Zagreb editor catching up with Lana to learn more about this talented soul.

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Lana Klignor, photo by Davorka Jurekovic/Pixsell

For more information, visit the Croatia Food Festival page here.

All photos by: Davorka Jurekovic/Pixsell


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