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THE 30th FOLK FESTIVAL UNDER POLANA DETVA 1995

DANA'S REPORT

Dear friends!

It's my pleasure to give you best greetings from the visitors and performers, who took part at the 30th Folk festival under the Polana in Detva.

Especially warm are greetings from Slovaks who live abroad and who for this occasion visited Slovakia. The beginning of the summer in our small Slovakia seems as if a bag-full of folk songs, music and dance has torn apart. Every week in different towns there are several folk festivals at the same time and one doesn't know where to turn first. The real fans of "folklore" have their luggage always packed, so that they could take it and run where they need.

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The primacy among the folk festivals is held by  and Detva. Vychodna always held the first and Detva the second weekend in July. This year Vychodna was one week earlier because of the visit of the Holy father John Paul II, who visited Slovakia on the 30th of June and stayed here several days. Perhaps somebody else will write about this occasion. At that time I was abroad an in few days I'm traveling again.
I was lucky to be here at the time of our festival in Detva, so I can describe the atmosphere of the whole occasion from the beginning till the end, during the day and at night. Even the weather was generous to our festival. The sun was shining all the time, there wasn't one cloud in the sky. The people were the same-smiling, happy and in the good mood.

FIRST DAY

On Friday, 7th of July, that means in the evening of the first day of the festival, in the Town's Cultural Center, Detva welcomed the chairman of the Parliament of the Slovak Republic Mr. Ivan Gasparovic, who took part at the opening of the exhibition of the academic sculptor Jan Kulich. Mr. Gasparovic couldn't be missing at the opening program on Friday evening. He was not only watching, but suddenly he became a performer. After his speech in the crowded amphitheater he was given a Fujara by a local Detvan. I have taught this vas a gift to him from the city of Detva. The people started to scream: "Play, play" - and the chairman of the Parliament didn't hesitate a moment, took the fujara and started playing. He was given GREAT applause, of course.

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The first program of the festival has its constant name: "Welcome in Detva." Performing groups are "home folk group" from Detva and the whole Podpolanie. This time they also included folk group "Nadeje" from Paris, that has been visiting and performing at Detva for already 20 years, and became a member of our big family. After "Welcome in Detva" the program continued with Bethlehemci until the midnight when it finished with ringing the midnight bells, which was fantastic.
Very interesting part of the festival were the exhibitions. One of them I already mentioned. Next one was the collection (from the production) of Ondrej Krnac, born in Detva, living in Toronto, Canada. I didn't meet Mr. Krnac personally. When I visited the exhibition, he was watching the program. What I know from the organizers is, that he studied at the "Art College School of Toronto," modeling and carving. His works were shown at various exhibitions: McKeesport, Pittsburgh, Buffalo in USA and Toronto, Canada.

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Biographic exhibitions "From the life and works of Karol A. Medvecky" should really be described in more detail than it is possible in this article. I'll just mention that Karol Anton Medvecky was a catholic priest who worked in Detva. In 1905, he published a monograph "Detva" and now, as we are celebrating the 120th anniversary of his birthday, the first re-edition of his book was published. There was also a program "Ballads" dedicated to this "great personality."

SECOND DAY

On Saturday morning it wasn't roosters announcing a new day that woke us up, not even the alarm clock. I was still sleeping when I heard that somebody is tuning his or her musical instruments right under our windows. Let the Balog's - musicians forgive me, but I knew at once that it couldn't be anyone else than Julo Bartos - "Suko" with his band from Cierny Balog. I was right. I recognized them after the first tones. "Balockari" are famous for their own tuning of the instruments, especially bass. The musicians played for "good morning" but for them probably "good night" because looking at their faces it was clear that they were ready for bed.

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The local radio played merry folk songs and the announcer invited everybody to visit the other performances.
The afternoon program started with the performance of the children's folk groups from various towns in Slovakia.
You can't imagine a more beautiful thing than seeing happy kids singing, dancing, and playing. I can't name everybody. I'll just mention 5 year-old Petko Danihel from Zvolen. He came to the microphone, himself adjusted the microphone to his height and started singing ... As he was singing, he didn't forget to "shoot" the smiles to the audience and then wasn't afraid of the photographers, cameras and applause. Our traditions won't die out when we have such "folklorist"!
Let's come back to the program. On Saturday afternoon the stage is always reserved for the jubilee folk groups.
Later on in the evening we have seen the village folk groups who showed us the old village wedding custom and traditions from Horehronie and Podpolanie. The jubilee groups were Rozsutec from Zilina, Mostar from Brezno and the local group Podpolanec. Later on at night the foreign universities' groups from Italy and Bulgaria came to greet our festival. They took part at the international festival Academic Zvolen that usually comes during the week between Vychodna and Detva.
The night from Saturday to Sunday is sleepless. There are numbers of folk entertainments, and it's not only at the places determined for this, you can hear music and folk singing everywhere you go. Whoever has gotten a music instrument - has to play. The musicians are mixed, they make new friends, learn from each other. As usual I was playing in the 4 ZS- Fourth primary school that turns into a dormitory for the local folk groups. This year I had a great pleasure to play with the musicians of the group Zeleziar from Kosice together with my friend, cymbal and violin player, from our now non existent "Valaska," Lubka Tumova. I was really happy playing until four in the morning. Earlier in the day I had purchased for $ 300.00 a new instrument, viola from a well-known musician Milan Hroncok and it sounds fantastic. In the morning, when the eyelids are heavy, you rest for couple of minutes, sleep a bit and then - we go again, because there is the third day of festival.

THIRD DAY

On Sunday morning there is a program of the folk groups of Slovaks living abroad. This year, unfortunately we didn't have anyone from across the ocean, but the groups from the neighboring countries (Romania, Yugoslavia, Croatia, Ukraine, Hungary). Even if some of them are only descendants of Slovaks, they keep the Slovak language and traditions of their parents and grandparents. This program of the "foreign Slovaks" is always very touching and besides smiles you can see tears in many eyes. It's a really great feeling for all these people to meet here - at home. I feel that this was the most Slovak program of the past five years. Even the Slovaks from Hungary were talking Slovak really nice. The program was smooth and floating, not like in the past years where the main emphasis was on customs. There were lots of dances and pretty good choreographies.

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The most popular folk groups from all over Slovakia always perform in the final Sunday afternoon program. As usual the groups have shown the best and most beautiful samples of their work. Among others there was group Partizan from Slovenska Lupca, Zeleziar from Kosice and the last group performing was our local Podpolanec from Detva.
In the area of amphitheater we could also see again this year many folk artists-craftsmen. They showed us how to make honey pie hearts, wooden sculptures, fujaras, whistles, etc. The folk instrument makers were showing hundreds of bells, pipes, ornaments made of leather, wood, straw, metal and wire. PPS Detva a heavy machinery and tractor manufacturer (also a main sponsor of the festival) was showing the machines that are made there. Of course, the food and souvenirs stands weren't missing.

Dear friends!

You might think that to go through so many performances and experiences in such a short time could be boring. It's not like that. One wants to be everywhere, hear and see everything, breathe the atmosphere, feel the life all around. The people seem to be better and happier, they don't mind the screaming under their windows, crowded shops and busses. Apartments turn into hostels. Everybody is willing to offer his or her apartment to the others who don't have a place to stay.
Detva has many festival experiences. It will take quite a long time - days, weeks - till the memories start to fade away. Very soon the directors of the groups will start working on the new program, so that the next year they could come up with something better, new and interesting.

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Finally, I'd like to give you all greeting from the chairman of the Slovak Parliament Mr. I. Gasparovic. When I told him that I would write about this festival to SHL, Mr. Gasparovic asked me to give his best regards to all Slovaks living abroad, hoping that once they will also visit their native Slovakia.

This is how we celebrated the 30th anniversary of Detva festival and when we heard the closing notes of fujara with bells at five in the afternoon, many of us had tears in their eyes that the weekend went so fast. We did miss you Vladimir, you have to come next year. The festival without uncle Linder is as without patron and real mascot. Everyone is saying hello to you and hopes that you will be here next year.

Dear friends, this newsletter finds it's way not only to you, but more and more it also comes here, home-to Slovakia and it's only thanks to the editor Mr. Linder. Many of us have relatives and friends somewhere in the world. Write to us! Write how you live so far away and if you still remember your homeland and our traditions.

Yours Dana.

Dana Hodulova
A. Bernolaka 2
962 12 Detva
Slovakia

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GO BACK TO FOLKLORE FESTIVALS

Published in the Slovak Heritage Live Newsletter, Volume 3, No. 3, Fall 1995
Copyright Vladimir Linder 1995
3804 Yale Street, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada V5C 1P6
The above article and photographs may not be copied, reproduced, republished, or redistributed by any means including electronic, without the express written permission of Vladimir Linder. All rights reserved.