August 22, 2020 – After a 280-year absence, the historic Prstenac in Barban jousting tournament once again brings thrills and visitors to inland Istria.
Following a 280-year absence, the weekend of the historic Trka na Prstenac in barban jousting tournament has begun once more. Since it was revived, this is the 45th consecutive time the colourful event has drawn spectators and competitors to the village of Barban. The first recorded mention of Trka na Prstenac in Barban comes from the year 1696.
Flag raising on the opening night
The weekend-long festivities started on the evening of Friday 21 August with the traditional raising of the event flag in the square by the Parish Church of St. Nikola. Horsemen in traditional costume entered through the stone gate and performed the ancient ceremony before visitors gathered under recently darkened skies. The names of this year’s competitors were read aloud. Following the theatre, visitors enjoyed the premiere screening of a documentary ’30 Seconds’, which followed four of the event’s previous competitors.
Traditional Istrian folk costumes were worn, adding a timeless aspect to the theatre of Friday night at Prstenac in Barban
During the competition, horsemen must charge at full gallop down the 150-metre-long Gradišće trail and hit a suspended ring with a spear. Their endeavours require incredible skill and accuracy. Occurring at such high speeds, each individual run takes less than 12 seconds. The riders have practised this many times before coming here and have undertaken trial runs in the village since Wednesday.
Three images from the build-up to Saturday’s Vine Race (Trka za viticu)
The Prstenac in Barban has taken place on the penultimate weekend in August every year since 1976. The thunderous sounds of horse hooves could not be silenced by COVID-19, although this year attendee numbers have been limited to 1,500.
16 horsemen are entering this year’s event in the hopes of winning the traditional prize of a dagger and a shield. An additional prize, “The Bird Ring”, the work of sculptor Josip Diminić, will also be awarded. The competitions began just after 5pm on Saturday 22 August with the Vine Race (Trka za viticu). This was the 25th annual undertaking of this pre-event. Later in the evening, clay pigeon shooting would take place under the challenging conditions of nightening skies.
The winner of Saturday’s Vine Race was Milio Grabrović. He rode a horse called Ulika and was assisted by pikeman Aldo Paus.
The main event, the Ring Race Trka na prstenac in Barban, will take place at the same time on Sunday 23 August. Those unable to attend this year will be able to watch the event from a live broadcast on TV channel HRT 2 from 5.15pm.
All photos © Trka na Prstenac in Barban / Goran Šebelić / Karmen Radetikio