Celebrating Cabbage and the World’s Biggest Sarma: Zeljarijada 2017 in Vidovec

Total Croatia News

Darko Gorenak Godar

Croatians love to celebrate their natural treasures, and if you are a fan of cabbage, there is only one place to be on September 22, 2017 – the opening of Zeljarijada 2017 in Vidovec, near Varazdin. 

If it grows, Croatia will celebrate it.

One of the joys of travelling through Croatia, whatever the season, is that one comes across local and traditional festivals all year. Croatia produces a rich and diverse collection of foodstuffs throughout its regions, and they like to celebrate at every turn. From fava bean ice cream in Kastela to lavender bread and butter pudding on Hvar, the fruits of the soil lead to some intriguing festivals and food combinations. 


If you are in northern Croatia this weekend and are a fan of cabbage, the place to be is Vidovec near Varazdin, for the 20th Zeljarijda (or Festival of Greens), where the humble Varazdin cabbage is celebrated in some style. 

Fiercely GMO-free the Varazdin cabbage enjoys its own protected status, and indeed there is just one lady who is licenced to sell its seeds, Marija Cafuk (see below) – TCN caught up with her at the 2014 Zeljarijada, a passionate lady committed to promoting the Varazdin cabbage. 


A small festival it may be, but one which breaks world records, with the longest sarma dish ever prepared in 2014. Sarma, a hearty winter dish of meat, dried meat and rice, wrapped in cabbage leaves, is popular throughout Croatia, and at Zeljarijada 2014, the record-breaking attempt by chef Damir Crleni, took three days to prepare, involved 35 people, 1000kg of meat, 1200kg of cabbage, 300kg of dried meat and 100kg of rice, resulting in a sarma dish which measured a total of 1.2 kilometres. The dish was quickly divided among hungry guests. 


This year’s Zeljarijada begins on Friday – the full programme is below.

Zeljarijada 2017

Friday, 22 September 2017
Roundtable of Varaždin Vegetables Agriculture Cooperative
20:00 Cabbage Night with Activ Band
Miroslav Škoro concert

Saturday, 23 September 2017
9:00 Opening of Old Crafts Fair and Economic Fair
⦁ Start of preparation of world’s longest cabbage roll
9:30 Cooking competition Cabbage Kettle
10:00 Field Days organised by PPP Cafuk and Zeljari Association
13:00 Cabbage Kettle winner announcement
14:00 Closing of 20th Zeljarijada
15:00 Slicing and distribution of world’s longest cabbage roll
16:00 Selection of the best Vidovec gibanik
⦁ Cabbage Games
17:00 County Parade of authentic folklore and International Folklore Parade
(location: Vidovec primary school sports hall)
19:00 Cabbage Night with Casablanca band
Zlatko Pejaković concert

Sunday, 24 September 2017
8:00 Old Crafts Fair and Economic Fair
9:30 Parade of cultural societies and horse carriages
(from Nedeljanec school to St Vid church in Vidovec)
11:00 Holy Mass in St Vid parish church
12:00 Reception of International Folklore Parade participants at Vidovec District leadership
15:00 International Folklore Parade, gun firing
18:00 Ceremonial closing of 20th Zeljarijada
19:00 Cabbage Night with Activ Band


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