I rise today to speak about Festa, the annual Croatian Food and Wine Festival. Festa is a fantastic event held by the South Australian Croatian community on the grounds of The Croatian Sports Centre at Gepps Cross. It is a showcase of culture from the community, which has provided a substantial contribution to our quintessentially South Australian way of life. It delivers a variety of aspects from both the traditional and modern Croatia. The hardworking volunteers led by the Croatian Sports Centre’s President Juli Circuk, Vice President and festival co-organiser Dinko Blazincic, festival co-organiser Gordana Smoljan, along with committee members Ljiljana Milicevic and Eddie Kovacev, must be commended for their tireless efforts and achievements. Year in, year out they have put on a great event, since the first Festa 14 years ago.
As the Croatian community best explains, Festa is a broad term for a number of celebrations. In essence, the meaning behind it would be described as “a good time.” There is no doubt that this what organisers of Festa produce this each year, without fail.
The Festa offers a range Croatian homemade delicacies and much-loved traditional fare, which gives the public a glimpse into the culture and way of life in Croatia. Some of the favourites on offer at Festa include the ever-present mainstays of Croatian events, Chevapchichi and spit-roasted meats, from pork to lamb and beef. The range of homemade cakes provided by members of the community is extensive. Sample all types of strudels, sponges and rolls. One could not speak of the Festa without mentioning the traditional Croatian donut, known as Krafne. A popular dessert within the community, this donut will have lines of people eagerly waiting for not just one, but a plateful. As with all in demand items, it is best to get in early to avoid disappointment.
It would not be possible to put on an event like this, without the support of local business, many of which highlight the tremendous impact and success the Croatian community has had on South Australia. From Croatian family owned businesses, such as Tomich Wines the suppliers of the wine for the festival, and sponsors such as Kilic Engineering and Grange Dental, the community has had a wide-ranging input into the growth of our great state.
A food and wine festival would not be complete without entertainment. The Festa does its part to showcase both contemporary and traditional Croatian music. The 2017 Festa is offering up another fabulous line up, which include local musicians performing a wide variety of Croatian songs. As the day turns into evening you’ll find that many of the local Croatians in the crowd do their bit to add to the festivities themselves. With local musicians playing traditional Croatian folk songs, it doesn’t take long before everyone is up and on the dance floor, linking arms in large circles and breaking out the Kolo.
Other attractions on offer include a cultural display, which also involves a parade of traditional national costumes from Croatia. For those looking for a bit of the competitive spirit in the festivities there is also a keenly contested boulder throwing competition. This all coincides with the ‘Festa Cup’ an annual soccer match played out by Whyalla and Port Lincoln. Both of these cities have strong Croatian communities, which helps to further the cause of Festa being a truly South Australian event.
The generous efforts of its volunteers is the reason the festival returns bigger and better each year. Many of these people are longstanding within the Croatian community. These include many expatriated Croats, still toiling away in the kitchen and at the bar. These people form the fabric of our immigration story and put their heart into the event each and every year. The longevity of Festa has occurred not only due to these diligent volunteers, but because the generations following have also contributed so much to the event. They have followed in the footsteps of their parents and grandparents. From donating hours of their time each year in setting up and running the event, to keeping age old family traditions alive, the Croatian culture brought over to this country, has not only been kept alive, but it has thrived. This can be seen everywhere at Festa, from younger generations following recipes decades and centuries old to children performing traditional folk dances. Their continued passion and hard work has created the best Croatian event of its kind in the country.
This year the Festa is being held on November 25th and promises to deliver a great day of festivities as it has done each and every year. I wish them all the best for this year’s festivities and I look forward to another successful event. Zivjeli!