The autumn Ogulin Fairy Tale Festival was held from 10th to 12th September 2021.

The already famous festival, which primarily celebrates fairy tales and narrative and theatrical arts intended for children and adults, shone in all its autumn glory, because in addition to the festival and festival events, the Town’s Day celebration was held, and just before the festival of original folklore of Karlovac County Igra Kolo was also organised by POU Ogulin.

igra kolo 2021
Igra Kolo 2021

The 25th parade of the original folklore of Karlovac County Igra Kolo was held from 3rd – 5th September 2021. The theme was the wedding customs of Karlovac County, themes related to the courting and romance of young people, engagements, wedding parties (brides, bridegrooms, various local customs), the first day after the wedding, the departure of a young woman for the first time after the wedding into the parental home and other wedding customs.

Igra kolo draganic
Igra Kolo

As part of the Igra kolo event, held this year for the first time was Priča kolo – a storytelling workshop and storytelling on the theme about the legend of St George with the youngsters of the St. Juraj culture and art society (KUD) from Zagorje Ogulinsko. The workshops were attended by young people from the society.

The aim was to introduce the participants to the storytelling process and in this way convey new perspectives, not necessarily to start storytelling, but to create an atmosphere that encourages the joy of using, preserving and transmitting and spreading the culture of their homeland, and the opportunity, if they wish – to create something new from it.

Priča kolo workshop

In particular, we got to know St George in more detail, his role in this area and in general, and the legend related to the place, which tells of St George and the dragon at Šmit’s Lake.

In the parade and at the Igra kolo show, the following culture and art societies performed:

KUD “Klek” Ogulin

KUD “Sv. Juraj” Zagorje Ogulinsko

KUD “Paurija” Dubravci

KUD “Sv. Juraj” Draganić

KUD “Sveta Ana – Vučjak” Karlovac

This year, the Ogulin Fairy Tale Festival was promoted in Jaškovo at Štrudlafest, where we told fairy tales to children and invited them to the upcoming Festival. Štrudlafest is a festival held every year in September, in Jaškovo – the place that entered the Guinness Book of Records with the longest strudel in the world.

Strudlafest 2021
Štrudlafest 2021

We also visited the ZGodionica festival in Zagreb. ZGodionica is the first and only festival in Croatia that in one place offers children the opportunity to get to know, improve, as well as to orient their creative, artistic, sports, educational, IT and many other affinities. We told two folk tales at the beginning of September at Bundek, and we had a great time!

ZGodionica 2021
ZGodionica at Bundek 2021

The events at the Ogulin Fairy Tale Festival are difficult to describe and count, however, I will mention the most impressive moments of the Festival here.

Apart from the shows, storytelling, concerts and quizzes, there was also a presentation of the Persian translation of Croatian Tales of Long Ago. The second day of the Festival was visited by the president of the Croatian-Iranian Society Irandustan – Ebtehaj Navaey and his wife Azra, teacher Zahra Naderi from Iran, accompanied by a live translation by Tea Krizmanić, and our Marijana Hameršak from the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore. We had the opportunity to hear the impressions of three girls from Tehran, who shared a video call with Ivana’s House of Fairy Tales about their experience of reading the fairy tale Stribor’s Forest. It was interesting to hear, and joyful too, because this event also confirms that fairy tales know no boundaries – and they are a global heritage that brings people together and unites them around the world.

Tales of Long Ago in Persian
Promotion of Croatian Tales of Long Ago in Persian

Furthermore, on the festival locations of Regoč, Đulin vrt, Neva Nevičica, Stribor and Potjeh – the performances, creative workshops, dancing, concerts and storytelling alternated.

The artistic director of the festival, Aleksandar Kovačević, chose the best of the best from creative, theatrical and storytelling production of this year’s festival, and producer Sonja Drašković Dedić, director of the Tourist Board of Ogulin with her team of employees and volunteers realised the festival goals.

During the creative workshops we learnt from: Kreativna Vizija, Društvo pedagoga tehničke kulture Ogulin, Regoč Tours Ogulin, Master of Glass and Wood, OPG Mikro Meni, Društvo Naša Djeca Ogulin, Ogulin’s Women’s Association, Croatian Photo Alliance and Seat of the Chakavian Assembly of Modruš, Cirk Pozor student cooperative, Zmajoljupci (Croatian Kite Association), and more…

A very interesting and different workshop was led by the Seat of the Chakavian Assembly of Modruš and the Croatian Photo Alliance who created their Chemigram story on photosensitive paper. Before the workshop, I told the fairy tale The Witch by Ema Božičević, after which the participants “transferred” the fairy tale to photosensitive paper.

Storytelling as inspiration for the Chemigram workshop

A fabulous pub quiz was held this year by the genius Silvije Pleština, whilst tennis players and cyclists held dynamic tournaments and cycling for all those who wanted movement and sports.

From the shows, we saw theatrical novelties by the Šareni Svijet theatre, Cirk Pozor, Vesna Matana Matić, Plesni Kristal, Barakuda Theatre, Dodo and Tuflek, and Luka Vidović.

The storytelling was special this year because for the first time at the Festival, one little storyteller with a great talent performed – Noa Salopek.

Noa Salopek
Noa Salopek – a new storytelling star

Amongst the experienced narrators Jasna Held, Sandra Vukoja, Margareta Peršić and myself, this year little Noa broke the ice too.

Noa Salopek
Noa Salopek

Noa is a boy who has just started preschool. He loves the performing arts so he attends all the festivals and shows. This is how we met, and our meeting resulted in a joint effort to realise his first performance. We had rehearsals in Đula’s park, to get used to the ambience. As Noa hasn’t learnt to read yet, his mother was of crucial help to us between rehearsals. Our meetings and efforts bore fruit when Noa on Saturday, 11th September 2021, came out in front of the audience and told his first and favourite fairy tale – Trnoružica (Sleeping Beauty), in front of the full audience of the amphitheatre. I am so proud of Noa and grateful to his parents for their cooperation and commitment to our goal, which we achieved.

Apart from Noa, Jasna Held from Dubrovnik, Sandra Vukoja from Slavonski Brod, Margareta Peršić from Zagreb, and I also narrated.

Sabina Gvozdić

Something new at this year’s Festival were the screenings of Croatia Film, which we all enjoyed every day of the Festival.

The La La Trio held a birthday concert for the town in the very centre of the park.

The autumn Ogulin Festival was also rich, cheerful and well attended, which makes us the happiest.

A few days after the Festival, I participated in a panel discussion about fairy tales in Croatia today, with guest writers Sanja Pilić, Sanja Lovrenčić, class teacher Ljerka Salopek Bacanović, and moderator Anita Brozović Šolaić from Ogulin’s town library and reading room.

panel discussion
Sabina Gvozdić, Sanja Pilić, Sanja Lovrenčić, Ljerka Salopek Bacanović

We talked about fairy tales in Croatia today: who writes, publishes and illustrates them, does everyone listen to fairy tales in the same way or is there some who think that fairy tales are reserved only for children, how important illustration is in fairy tales, the difference in fairy tales then and today, the difference between old and modern illustrations, and much more. At the end of the panel as a thank you for participating, we received a special gift, a collection of stories, customs and beliefs from the Homeland of the Fairy Tales by Sanja Kolić (Skaska), Tales from Ogulin.

Tales from Ogulin created via the Ivana’s House of Fairy Tales visitor centre project by the author Sanja Kolić

We are already looking forward to the next Ogulin Fairy Tale Festival, and all the other events that extol creative and imaginative creativity, education, storytelling, reading, skills development, spontaneity and warm human smiles 🙂

If next June seems a long way off, we are here for (almost) every other day of the year – come and visit!

Greetings from the Homeland of Fairy Tales 🙂

Lively Summer – part 1

Photographs by: Miro Brozović, Blanka Poljak, Martin Mayhew, IKB

Translation by Martin Mayhew