Interview with Tartajun President Šime Šurjak

Total Croatia News

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With Hvar’s legendary dormouse festival around the corner, we catch up with new Tartajun president, Šime Šurjak. 

One of the coolest things about Dol is that everything is a surprise – to me at least. When I first visited, it seemed a dead place and I was in no rush to go back. But come back I did, as many others have done, for set in the hills, there are some rather interesting people doing some rather interesting things in this unfashionable village – a Slovenian art studio, an American body and soul retreat, a British yoga centre.

And Tartajun.

Tartajun is a local association made up of friends from Dol who would like to improve the village, as well as promoting and reviving the history and traditions of the island. They produce a fabulous magazine and came up with the most unusual festival in Croatia – a dormouse festival.

I have only met new president Šime Šurjak face to face once, as – as you would expect for a Dol resident – Šime was living in Qatar, so a little hard to meet for a beer. But now he is back and looking forward to the fifth dormouse festival, or puhijada. 

1. A dormouse festival! It sounds very exotic. Tell us about the history of the festival and what visitors can expect

Actually Tartajun originally was founded because of our magazine “Tartajun” (first edition was released 2007), which focuses on the history and traditions of the village of Dol. With the release of every new edition we organized a small party with food and drinks. And in the summer of ’08, when we were preparing 3rd number of “Tartajun” magazine we decided to organize a bigger party with live music, games, performances…

The name and theme of festival was logical for us – “Puhijada” or “dormouse festival”. The reason for that is because people from Dol have been hunting and eating dormice since ancient times and that tradition has remained in Dol, whereas the tradition is largely lost in other villages in Dalmatia and on Hvar.

We continued with organization of Puhijada every summer, so this year we have the fifth Puhijada and eight edition of the Tartajun magazine.

And year by year, Puhijada becomes a bigger event, one of the biggest on island.

2. Tartajun seems very active in the village. Tell us a little about their work and your projects.

Puhijada festival and “Tartajun” magazine are not the only activities of Tartajun, we are trying to improve life in our small village with culture, fun, sports and humanitarian activities.

So we organized a few live concerts in the winter, we are helping with landscaping in the village, renovation of some objects, we helped Caritas with humanitarian actions, published a few books, founded futsal club “Tartajun” etc.

Also, we installed a Weather station, which shows weather condition in Dol in real time online.

As a group of good friends, we are also trying to go on some trips together, outside of the island and of course, that activity is most popular among the members…

3. What would you recommend that visitors to Dol see and do (outside of the Puhijada)

Dol is small village, but there are many places that can be seen. For example, there are nice churches with nice area around them. Main church is in the middle of the village, on the hill “Glavica”, and there are also few smaller ones. There is a very nice bar called Trocadero and the restaurant Konoba Kokot serves great food and was Restaurant of the Day on Total Hvar recently.

It is also a very artistic village, with several foreigners living and working here. These include Atelier Marinka, which hosts children’s painting classes and general art workshops, and the Suncokret Body and Soul retreat. There is a lot going on!

There is beautiful nature all around. Since Dol is in a valley, there are hills around it, easily accessible, from where visitors can find great views of the island of Hvar.

4. There seems to be a lot of inland regeneration and agro tourism initiatives on Hvar. can you tell us more about them?

Yes, there are initiatives to improve life on the island and to keep young people there. But as I noticed, those are mostly individual efforts, where in most cases young and educated people are trying to implement their knowledge for benefit of their family and island. There are renovation of old houses and I must say that most of people are trying to keep original Dalmatian tradition in architecture and environment.

So, in those places there are possibilities to offer to a visitor to see and sense some original and authentic Dalmatian experience, so let’s hope that there will be much more of that.

In addition to Tartajun, there are several other associations doing great things in other inland villages. The most famous is Pjover, who are doing amazing things in Velo Grablje, including the annual lavender festival, but also Brusje now has an assocaition called the Crooked Olive Tree which is working to improve the village, and Svirče came to life this June as Ivana Krstulović Carić organised a game of zoga falo for tourists at the Bogdanuša wine tasting. There are also several restaurants not only surviving but flourishing, as tourists want to experience a little of authentic Hvar. It is very encouraging.

5. What is your favourite place in Dol and why?

My favorite place is “Ogradica”, part of Dol where I live, but besides that, I like both of the village “centres”, near “balote” playgrounds (a Dalmatian version of boules) there were gathering points, during day for older people and children, and during evenings and night for youths. So, we all spent a lot of beautiful hours and days there with lot of nice memories. On those places, lot of friendships were made, but there were also some love stories, first kisses, first loves, last loves…

To conclude, I would just like to invite everybody to Puhijada, which will be held form 7th august until 11th August – Saturday, when will be the final event, big show with live concert. I’m sure that there will be a lot of fun and something for everybody. Come and enjoy!

Thanks Šime – looking forward to it. To learn more, visit the Tartajun website, or click here for the programme of events


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