Domovina from Windsor tours Slovakia

01_Domovina_200Over a four-day period, July 4-7, 2013, over one thousand performers--dancers, singers, musicians, actors and actresses—from nine different countries plus Slovakia, took part in the “Svetove Stretnutie Slovakov v Kosiciach”--Domovina from Windsor, Ontario, Canada; Sarisan from Detroit, Michigan, USA; and from Europe, folklore groups Milka Stoeva from Bulgaria; Šarvanci from the Czech Republic; Komlos from Hungary; Krajan and KUS Zvolen from Serbia, KIS Kysác a theatrical group from Serbia; Liptáci from the Ukraine; and Rozmarín, a children’s group from Vienna, Austria.

For the Slovak Domovina Dancers, our first performance was on Friday, July 5, in Secovce, with Rozmarin from Vienna and Savranci from Prague.  We toured the town of Secovce, visiting the family home of  ThDr. Jan Murin, now a museum, and the klastor of Sts. Cyril and Methodius where the Basilican Sisters reside.  At the town square, we placed a wreath at the monument commemorating the arrival of patron Sts. Cyril and Methodius to Slovakia 1150 years ago.  Greetings from the Mayor of Secovce and Matica Slovenska officials were followed by singing the national anthem and at 5:00 pm we performed to a very receptive audience at the Cultural Home.  After the performance, we had dinner, were thanked for our participation in the days’ events and returned to Kosice by bus.

Saturday, July 6, was the Festival’s Gala program in Kosice’s amphitheatre downtown.  Each group was scheduled a rehearsal time and the actual program was divided into three parts, beginning with a children’s program, “Detsky Svet”; “Rodostrom” featuring seniors groups; and the main program “Slovensko a Slovensky Svet” with the participation of twelve different groups.  This program opened with greetings from Marian Tkac, President of Matica Slovenska, and Richard Rasi, Mayor of Kosice.  Domovina danced Detvansky Tanec and Tance z Horehron.  We were very pleasantly surprised when they introduced Domovina.   They announced that we were celebrating our 30th anniversary in 2013 and the organizers, participating groups and audience sang Happy Birthday to Domovina.  Following the Gala program  all groups were invited to meet in the school’s cafeteria for a social evening.  Musicians from Savranci and Krajan came and played while everyone danced, sang and enjoyed the rest of the evening.

Sunday morning Matica Slovenska arranged for buses to take the groups to downtown Kosice for a walking tour of the city.  Our next  performance was in Strazske with a singing group from Bulgaria.  We concluded our program with a gypsy dance and were greeted by many gypsy children when we came off stage   This program was well attended and they presented us with a bouquet of flowers and gifts and  prepared a wonderful dinner in the school cafeteria.

Domovina spent the next three days in Kosice relaxing and enjoying the attractions of the cultural capital of Europe.  Monday we explored the downtown area; Tuesday we went to the Kosice Zoo; Wednesday to the Botanical Gardens and then to a salas as guests of Maria Stajkova, Frankie Varga’s aunt, for an excellent dinner—vegetable soup, bryndzove halusky, chicken, pork and, of course, mouth-watering pastries.  What a feast—we thank you very much!  

Thursday morning the bus arrived to take us to Zvolen in preparation for the Festival pod Polanou in Detva.  These next four days were filled with rehearsals, putting together a program for the 40th “Krajanska Nedela” Sunday afternoon, July 14.  Friday and Saturday evenings we went to the performances in Detva and on Sunday our program “Ked Regiment Masiroval Cez nas Dvor” was at 1:30 in the afternoon.  The program, put together by Dr. Vlastimil Fabisik with Pucik in the Czech Republic, and sponsored by the Office for Slovaks Living Abroad (Urad pre Slovakov Zijucich v Zahranici) focused on life in pre-war Slovakia, recruitment for the military and the after effects of  war--an excellent program that brought tears to many eyes.  The program participants Pucik from Brno, Czech Republic; Nadeje from Paris, France; SKUS Frano Strapac from Markovca, Croatia; Domovina from Windsor, Ont., Canada; Pispek from Pispeka, Hungary; Zeleny Javor from Krempach, Poland, Cerovina from Cerpotoka, Romania; Klasy from Stara Pazova, Serbia; and Morena from London in Great Britain performed to a packed audience in Detva.  

Sunday evening a reception for all participants was prepared in the school cafeteria.  Ing. Jan Sufliarsky, the Mayor of Detva, stated that it was the best program they have had in a long time.  He presented each group with a Certificate of Participation.  Igor Furdik, President of the Office for Slovaks Living Abroad, presented a framed certificate of participation along with a gift bag and a wooden soldier—a very fitting momento of the afternoon’s program.   They invited everyone to enjoy dinner and socialize.  It was a very relaxing evening to conclude four days of intensive work.

Monday morning, July 14, we began the last leg of our trip.  We headed to the Sliac Kupele, our home for the next six days.  After settling in, we went for a tour of the Kupele and spent a relaxing day.  Tuesday we were booked for Mineral Baths in the morning and at 4:00 o’clock were scheduled for a performance at the Kupele.  Starosta Ivan Janovec and the organizers of HaluskyFest came to the Kupele and prepared halusky for everyone while we performed for the audience.  

Wednesday we went to Banska Bystrica Ing. Ladislav Moncek, Head of the Tourist Bureau, took us on a tour of the city.  At the Radnica (City Hall) we were greeted by the Mayor, given a brief history of the city and were presented with a framed painting of the castle tower in the main square.  After touring the downtown area they took us to lunch in Spania Dolina, a small mining town with 200 inhabitants.  The town is built around a mountain, with houses and a road winding around it.  The Starosta very graciously took us on a tour to the top of the mountain.  We saw typical miners’ homes from the 17th and 18th centuries, mining shafts and the mining watercourse.  We proceeded up to the R.C. Church, Kostol Premenenia Pana, built in 1254, the center point of the village.  Our dancers found the rubble dump, which dominates the landscape, quite interesting.  Composed of the rocks and rubble removed from the mines over the past 400-500 years, it is 405,510 m2. and offers a panoramic view of the village and surrounding mountains.  .  

Thursday we went to downtown Zvolen where we were met by representatives from the SOS Zvolen, a middle technical school where they teach various trades.  We went on a walking tour of the city, toured Zvolen Castle and had lunch at the school’s restaurant, operated by the students, and were greeted by Alzbeta Stanikova,  Headmistress of SOS.  We enjoyed a couple of hours free time to shop and sightsee before returning to Sliac—another very relaxing day.

Friday morning we went to Turecka, where they were preparing, setting up for the Festival.  We went on a 6-hour hike through the mountains to the peak at Krizna.  I am very proud to say that we had 13 complete the hike.  Everyone said the view was breathtaking, spectacular and well worth the effort.  After dinner at the St. Bernard Restaurant, we returned to Sliac to prepare for our big day at the HaluskyFest Turecka 2013.

Saturday morning, we took part in the Halusky Competition.  Our team consisted of Anka Dobos, who peeled the potatoes; her Mom, who grated the potatoes and mixed up the dough; Tereza Gallo who cut and fried the slanina; and Tomas Dobos, who chopped the wood for the fire.  Each teams preparation and cleanup was timed, they presented their halusky to the judges and had to eat the rest!  During the day, various groups, including Domovina, performed on stage.  Everyone was anxious for the announcement of the competition winners at 4:00 pm.  I am proud to say that our team took 4th place out of 17 teams--an excellent showing as we were the only competitor that was not from Slovakia.   

Domovina would like to take this opportunity to thank the Festival organizers and sponsors, especially Starosta Ivan Janovec and his team who went overboard in accommodating Domovina, ensuring that we had an enjoyable stay.  Not only were we able to perform our dances to many appreciative audiences, showing that we proudly maintain our Slovak culture abroad, we were also able to enjoy the breathtaking beauty of Slovakia and meet many warm and wonderful people.  This proved to be one of Domovina’s best trips.   We came back to Canada with many wonderful memories, many new and renewed friendships and lots of renewed enthusiasm.



Text and Photos: Irene Timko and Slovak Domovina Dancers