World Championships in Olive Picking: Croatian Tourism at Its Finest

Paul Bradbury

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October 23, 2023 – Postira on Brac was the place to be last weekend, as the World Championships in Olive Picking took place for the 6th time. It is an event that has everything.

Any event which starts with drinking gin at 09:00 gets my vote, especially when that gin is the excellent Poetica craft gin from Vrgorac. And especially when the gin was an exclusive blend, including infused olives, with a limited edition of just 200 hand-painted bottles.

The World Championships in Olive Picking is that kind of event – full of little snippets of dedication and passion. For an event that offered literally everything over the weekend, I am struggling to find a better example in the last 21 years living here.

Location Postira, a pretty stone town with a long fishing tradition. And they came from all over – 12 teams in total, from olive heartlands such as Spain and Italy, from as far away as Australia, complete with inflatable kangaroo, and from extra virgin olive countries such as Latvia, Lithuania and Ireland.

The Irish set the tone on the opening night, as each team introduced themselves and their country. And as you can see above, the Irish experience of olives was minimal.

What immediately struck me on the first evening was just how loved this event was. The Poles had won it two years in a row, and so could not compete this year, but were invited back as honorary guests. The Irish were there as one participant’s wife had so much fun last year. Based in Spain, he managed to persuade a Spanish team to come as well.

Half of the German team lived in the town, and one of the Latvians lived in Split – both persuaded friends that Postira was the place to be. And a digital nomad team was here for the third year in a row – nomads from Finland, Denmark, Greece and USA.

But the community was also very much involved, with the local primary school attending the picking and providing snacks, while the pupils from the cooking school made lunch – a delicious bean stew at the imperious Kastil Gospodnetic in nearby Dol.

The event was superbly organised by Postira Tourist Board director, Ivana Jelincic and her team, and Ivana was clearly enjoying what has quickly become the favourite event in the Postira calendar. The rules were surprisingly strict, and the organisation excellent.

And so to the start, as team captains raced off to claim their three trees, and then the intense 45-minute picking began.

It was very competitive, and the exhausted teams then transferred the olives to the mill for secret weighing – the results would not be known until the gala dinner the following night. Only in Dalmatia – how to turn a 45-minute competition into a 4-day event…

In addition to the luncheon visit to Dol, there was also a guided bus tour of the island, the highlight of which was a visit to the outstanding olive oil museum in Skrip.

I have rarely come across an event were everyone bonded so well, and the evening awards dinner was preceded by a chance for countries to showcase their cuisine. There were some excellent contributions, really tasty…

And then there was Australia, extolling the virtues of Vegemite. And then…

The good ole US of A – where would we be without their culinary contribution to our waistlines?

Another excellent dinner at Hotel Pastura (this is a hotel with seriously great food) and so to the awards. Montenegro won the quiz. As for the olives, Team Ireland came in fifth, Australia fourth, Germany took the bronze, Montenegro the silver…

… and the olives came home, with Croatia crowned champions for the first time since 2018.

An afterparty ensued, where cameras were switched off. I cannot confirm rumours of a 04:30 finish, as I left just as the inflatable kangaroo came out to party.

You can see a video overview of the event in my first-ever street vlogs from my new playlist on my Paul Bradbury YouTube channel – Bradders on Location.

Special mention to Postira Tourist Board director Ivana Jelincic and her team for a truly outstanding event that really had everything. So much fun in fact that nobody really noticed the torrential rain that dominated day two. And also to MC Daniel Lacko and his media crew, who produced a superb video and photo montage in record time for the final dinner.

Croatian tourism at its finest.


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