This past weekend was one of the best annual events for Vinkovci, being the 54th anniversary of Vinkovci Autumn, which showcases some of the best Slavonia has to offer. This past weekend Total Croatia News’ James MacDonald was there and had a chance to see behind the scenes and find some of the hot spots to eat in Vinkovci.
The fact that Vinkovci is commonly referred to as the “oldest town in Europe” really took on its significance over these past ten days as the community pulled together putting on the incredible event. It has been a fantastic week for the annual event as thousands of people were drawn out to the festivities. This event is said to have boasted more than 8,000 performers who took part in its 54th anniversary. To see it in person for many was a spectacular event – witnessing Croatian tradition come to life.
The feeling of autumn was definitely in the air with the yellow and orange leaves falling. The bright colours of autumn filled the streets with pastel orange and yellow under the blue Croatian sky. There was the midway of carnival rides, plenty of shopping, arts and crafts, gastronomy and beverages, marathons, concerts, musical performances, plays, parades, and much more. It is almost impossible to write everything and see everything that happened during this magical festival.
There’s always room for more great Slavonian dishes to try…
When attending such an event it is near impossible to resist the smell of freshly cooked Čobanac, fish paprikaš and more. The sight of fish cooking over the open wood fire pits and the black kettles is just one sign that you know you’re in Slavonia. The region is known for cooking with paprika, a rich crimson red spice that is put into most of the gastronomic dishes and is to be savoured. It was a great way to experience some dishes you may have not tried before.
Music could be found playing everywhere in Vinkovci as night fell.
There was plenty of entertainment throughout the city as tamburitza bands sang and performed walking the streets playing their beloved songs. In the café bars were thousands of people soaking up the sounds of continental Croatia while gathered with friends and family. There was that ambient feeling of nostalgia as if time had stopped and our everyday problems disappeared amongst the people.
A chance to see how Croats get ready for this big cultural event.
The event really helped celebrate the rich history, culture and tradition for many Croats. It was also a great opportunity to share and introduce Croatian culture to younger generations who got to experience and be part of their family’s rich cultural heritage. Vinkovci was definitely the place to be if you wanted to see many different Croatian customs all in one place. Each region has its own specific style and clothing that represents generations upon generations, continuing its rich cultural legacy.
The autumn festival brought together some of the most elegant Croatian clothing to be seen. The bright glittering golden “dukats” were adorned by the ladies that had been passed down through many generations in the same family for years. The ”dukats” are more than just decoration, but are symbols of wealth and prosperity (and the history of that in itself would be a completely different article).
Each region has its own style of embroidered clothing and choice of colours to represent the area as well as their family heritage. In some garments, the patterns are very sophisticated with great attention paid to the details.
The men also took part in the tradition of wearing clothing which dated back to their grandfathers and now deceased relatives. The men’s attire was paired to the women’s clothing in terms of style associated with the region they were from. The men were adorned with different tailored jackets, trousers and hats that took many visitors back to their very own ancestors.
It was also a chance to see how the crew gets ready for their big TV performance…
With the sun setting during the golden hour, the streets became more alive, drawing more and more crowds to the centre stage. The dress rehearsals slowly began and one could feel the energy of excitement in Vinkovci. To be there and watch the piece together was one of those precious moments in life as the performers set about their final preparations for the evening show. The side streets were full of performers wearing all sorts of bright coloured clothing as they waited patiently to be called to the stage.
Watching the pre-show, one could see how the performers were hooked up to wireless microphones, then the difficult part of having the performers know their mark on the stage for camera shoots, while the traditional dancers paraded around the stage. It was truly a rare opportunity to see the piece come together for those that attended the event.
The organisers waved their hands in the air like conductors to direct the crew and stagehands to engage in last-minute adjustments. The director carefully prepared for hours in making sure that the presentation of the event would go smoothly for the live broadcast on Croatian TV. Everything went perfectly when adjusting everything from floodlighting and stage direction.
It’s necessary to give a special thanks to everyone who took the time to make the annual Vinkovci Autumn such a memorable event that draws thousands of people back to Vinkovci every year. Without their tireless efforts, the festival would not be the success that it has become known as in the usually overlooked Eastern Croatian region of Slavonia.
Much appreciation goes out to the many volunteers, organisers, and sponsors and of course to the Municipality of Vinkovci. Congratulations to another successful year thas brought people together in this one of a kind place known as Vinkovci – The oldest town in Europe.
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