11 Slovenian Festival in Victoria

The tradition of Slovenian Festivals/ Tabori is well established in Victoria. The 11 Slovenian biennal Festival took place last weekend on the 1st and 2nd March at the Club Jadran in Diggers Rest, north-west of Melbourne.
This festival is organized every two years by the Council of Slovenian Organizations of Victoria/ Svet slovenskih organizacij Viktorije in short, SSOV.  Four Melbourne clubs are members, highly active with frequent meetings, to make common decisions and co-ordinate regular community events.

The Victorian Slovenian Festival is always a two-day event, beginning with mass in the main hall, opening speeches by the SSOV and host club president, by the Slovenian charge d’affaires and representatives of the Australian parliament, Ethnic Community Council and Victorian Multicultural Commission. The first day included the cultural program, lunch, viewing of displays of handicrafts and archival material, and evening ball.

This year the festival was hosted by the Jadran club. The audience was welcomed the President of Jadran club Romana Zetko. Then the opening speech was given by the SSOV President Stan Penca. The large hall was resplendid with sun, flowers and greenery and the polished floor shone like liquid honey. The traditional mass preceding the opening speeches, was celebrated by Fr. Ciril Božič OFM. The hall was filled to capacity.

After a short break, the Australian and Slovenian anthems were sung, followed by the speakers, who all spoke about the great multicultural society of Australia, the society of diversity, richness and social harmony. Charge d’affaires of the Slovenian Embassy in Canberra, Gregor Kozovinc emphasized the importance of multicultural dialogue, which is one of the priorities of Slovenia during EU presidency in 2008.

The cultural program was a palette of humour, exceptional singing, a recital and splendid dancing by Slovenian youth of the Iskra folklore dance group.
At the end of the cultural program Aleksandra Ceferin announced the Launch of the website rocnadela.org and Archives of Slovenian Emigrant Handicrafts of Victoria.

High attendance on both Saturday and Sunday. There was something for everyone. The Slovenian ensemble Snežnik entertained and played in the very dynamic Slovenian style at the ball on Saturday evening, and again at different times during Sunday. The four visitors had friends and compatriots among the community and felt at home. Tania Smrdel, the SBS programmer came from Sydney and conducted several interviews.

In the afternoon there were many musical performances by young and old in the courtyard, traditional music played on accordions, and Slovenian songs. At the indoor bowling hall, competition was fierce. There were many prizes given for the bowling teams, the cake competition, artistic performances and a raffle. The old club house was a great attraction. All the clubs presented exhibits of handicrafts, memorabilia and archives. An interesting stall was of the local honey mead and bees wax products by bee-keeper Stan Starc.

The citizenship session by the three member delegation from Slovenia was incorporated into the Sunday afternoon program. They were Katarina Šturm and Aleš Jerman from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and Aleš Selan from the Office for Slovenes Abroad.
It was eagerly anticipated, and  the hall was filled at 2.30 pm. They spoke about important citizenship, and voting issues as they concerned descendants of Slovenian emigrants. After a question period, they had sessions with individuals to help with particular problems.

The weekend was a great occasion,  “ slovenska veselica”, as we say in Slovenian - a traditional Slovenian event, of11 Slovenian gathering in large numbers and celebrating together.
The 11 Slovenian Festival was filled with music, sunshine, laughter, traditional food and drink, companionship and visual mementos from the other homeland on the other side of the world.
It was a celebration of the Slovenian spirit which people carried with them to the new homeland, Australia.

In the words of France Prešeren, the great Slovenian poet in the sixth stanza of the poem Zdravljica/ The Toast, which celebrates togetherness, companionship and good will:

Nazadnje še, prijatlji,
kozarce zase vzdignimo,
ki smo zato se zbrat'li,
ker dobro v srcu mislimo;
dókaj dni
naj živí
vsak, kar nas dobrih je ljudi!

At last to our reunion -
To us the toast! Let it resound,
Since in this great communion
By thoughts of brotherhood we're bound
May joyful cheer
Ne'er disappear
From all good hearts now gathered here.

Photo Album:   11 Festival Slovenian Handicrafts Exhibition     
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