Liberty Festival Osijek – Exclusive Inside Review

Total Croatia News

All images: Deane Thomas

TCN’s Deane Thomas gives us a closer look at Osijek’s Liberty Festival.

Any inaugral event is going to have issues, but the organisers of Liberty Festival in Osijek at the weekend showed what can be done with a lot of determination and persistance!

Event organiser Damir Katusic really demonstrated what is possible when great minds think alike. Friday’s event was opened at Barutana, with the launch of Tesla Sustainable Village and Innovation Centre.

Dragan Vulin, President of the Osijek-Baranja County Council who supports the project, stressed the importance of the diverse content of Liberty Festival, he commented that the festival will attract a wide audience and promotes a healthy lifestyle in every respect.

Young innovator Neven-Lucian Davidovic, a big fan of Nikola Tesla, told the conference that he hopes that such projects will bring more and more awareness as well as raise funds for the return of talented young innovators from abroad.

The founders of the Tesla Sustainable Village and Innovation Centre launched their crowdfundunding campaign, and revealed their mission and vision. In addition, Tomislav Tesla sent his own message of support to the event.
Throughout the conference, alternative ideologoies that are beginning to gain momentum in Croatia were presented. The Croatian Ethical Bank presented their vision as an alternative, yet innovative financial services provider.

The Ethical Banks’ motto is ”People before profits”, which is a breath of fresh air from the banking sector. Whilst the management finalises the full banking licenses in Croatia, it is important to note they are one of 17 other Ethical banks operating in EU. In Croatia at the moment, there are some 2000 members of the Bank, this number is growing daily.

Other presenters shared their vision for the future, which is certainly completely different to the way things are at the moment. It is encouraging to hear others speak of change with a passion, as well as reaching an audience that is ready and prepared to change too. Ivan Bertovic captured the imagination of the audience with his presentation about communication with others.

As dusk turned to darkness the Catacombes became the venue for two days of electronic music. History Edition – Liberation and Regneration. A line up of 6 local DJs from Osijek, turned the venue into an incredible party atmosphere that was welcomed by the 500 or so guests who visited. Taking electronic music back to its roots through enchanting beats and sets. The DJs performed for all the generations that were in their own ”zones”.

Followers came from all over the region to enjoy an alternative night of pure fun and passion.

Of course, the Croatian authorities could not help but to make their presence felt and known, which perhaps is a disappointing aspect of doing something good in Croatia. Their whole attitude is completely backward and defunct, they could well do with some people skills education. Friday the event was visited by two officials from Customs administration, who it appeared had been prepared to close down the night event. They spent two to three hours asking questions which were more like an interrogation of the organisers and subcontractors. It is an intimidating method of operation, that is backed and supported by the law, but one has to ask its true purpose.

Liberty Festival took another dimension on Saturday, with Liberty Bicycle Race. A 63km cycle race from Batina to Osijek, that attracted riders from all over the region, including Hungary, Serbia and Austria. Again we saw the coming together of many ages groups from under 17 through to over 65. It was incredible to see them crossing the finish line. Liberty Bicycle Race was coordinated with Bicycle Clubs from Osijek and Sombor, again cross border cooperation.

After the race, cyclists and their support crew gathered for an afternoon of entertainment, local food and prize giving at Vodenica on the river Drava. Over 60 cyclists participated in the event, which was won by Liberty Cycling Teams Žolt Der from Hungary. The winners were each awarded medals and Bitcoin. It was great to witness such a dynamic group of athletes enjoying their afternoon in Osijek, and discussing next years event in detail.

The Cycle race was followed by more presentations at Barutana, where the audience was joined by Croatian Poet, Darko Balaš. His theme was also very enlightening – communication within the tourist sector. The importance of the lasting impression we leave others when we interact with them, expecially in Croatia where millions of foreigners visit each year.

There is a common message from Liberty Festival, and that is all about change in attitude and mindset. Whilst those in power continue to promote what has happened in the past as a constant reminder to cover up their own issues and deficiencies, the people are opening their eyes to the illusions. After the afternoon of presentations, again the Catacombes became transformed into a dance venue.

Dressed with innovative artworks, and DJs who understand how to use music to take the mind on a journey. ”Regeneration” took a journey this night with trance music, that was enjoyed by an interesting array of partygoers.

As the party went on, the event was again visited by the Croatian authorities, who, this time came in another guise. I witnessed the authoritarian attitude and actions of an inspector in full action, even at one point snatching the ID card from a volunteer. The threats of calling the poilce if she did not cooperate, again, this type of attitude is draconian. Interviewing the sub-contractors for some 3 hours about their roles, their permissions and life story.

One has to question any Government official who has the full power of the law to wield about as they see fit. This simply does not happen in other countries, unless there is an icident, or an alternative agenda by the agency.

No matter the motives, the event continued to entertain the partygoers, who enjoyed an amazing spectacle of music and live performers. As sunrise blinked on the horizon, the partygoers said farewell to Liberty Festival for 2017; they prepare to gather for another weekend of music in Osijek.

”Regeneration Festival” is a full 48 hours of non-stop music for all to enjoy! For more details of the event, check out Facebook!

In closing, full credit has to be given to all those who participated in the organisation of Liberty Festival, we look forward to 2018!


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