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HELPA 1993

Heľpa is a small village situated about 76 Km from Banska Bystrica in central Slovakia. For 28 years the last weekend in June belongs to the festival. I have been to the festival first time in 1992 and I liked so much that I have returned. The festival is smaller than Vychodna or Detva but since I really love the folklore of Upper Hron, it is a pleasure to watch the folklore of Upper Hron villages for two days. The festival has international participants. This year them were groups from Romania, Ukraine, and Poland. The Romanian and Ukrainian groups, I am sure were professional, you could tell from well-drilled movements, but they lacked the spirit of folkdance. It was like in the theater. The Polish group was dancing Goral dances, similar to the Goral dances in Northern Slovakia around the High Tatra mountains and they were great. The highlight of the two-day festival was called " Oci, Oci." Musical program dedicated to a Gypsy musician Julius Bartos from Cierny Balog, to his life jubilee, 60th birthday. The well wishers included folk dance groups and musicians from the whole Upper Hron region. Cierny Balog is a village few kilometers south of Brezno and about 20 Km west of Helpa.

Musicians of Julo Bartos music, his sons, play always at all festivals. You can say they are probably the best known Gypsy folk music group in whole Slovakia. When, Julo sings his famous "Oci Oci Cierne Oci, Eyes, Eyes, black eyes what should I do with you..." Everybody in the amphitheater sings with him and I sing too, with tears in my eyes. They have a hard time leaving the stage, time after time, as the audience demands more, they gladly obey and play and play. As soon as they leave the stage and exit through the back stage, you can hear them playing and singing again till the wee hours of the morning.

So Julo, Happy Birthday from far away Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. I wish you many, many more years of good health and happiness and most of all, for your beautiful voice to stay with you for ever. I am looking forward to see and hear "The Bartos" musicians at the next year's festivals.


Published in the Slovak Heritage Live Newsletter, Volume 1, No. 3, Fall 1993
Copyright Vladimir Linder 1993 
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.