SEATTLE, WA –October, 2010 – For 16 years the FESTAL series at the Seattle Center has provided a format for ethnic groups to showcase their history, culture and contributions to the development of the Pacific Northwest. The Croatian community, calling its event CroatiaFest, has participated since 2004 and has become one of FESTAL'S shining lights. CroatiaFest 2010 was held Saturday and Sunday, October 2nd and 3rd in the Seattle Center's Center House-- a massive hall with stage, hundreds of seats, plenty of floor space for displays and vendors of Croatian-oriented merchandise and a welcoming booth. The hall is ringed with a dozen or so commercial food and drink outlets, many of which tailored their menus to include Croatian favorites such as “sarma, čevapčići, ražnjići, kobasice, Karlovačko pivo and šljivovica…” By ascending a short flight of stairs, one enters a large gallery where Croatian art and cultural artifacts are displayed. The lecture rooms are immediately adjacent.
HONORED TO HAVE CROATIAN AMBASSADOR KOLINDA GRABAR KITAROVIĆ
The Croatian community was honored to have Ambassador Kolinda Grabar Kitarović visit CroatiaFest for the second year in a row. The Ambassador traveled to Seattle from the Croatian Embassy in Washington, D.C. accompanied by Embassy First Secretary Jelena Perić and was joined by Consul General Ilija Želalić who traveled from Los Angeles. The Ambassador took in many aspects of CroatiaFest and participated directly in the Saturday night reception when she presented a plaque to Dr. Frank Brozovich honoring him for his many years of service to the Republic of
Croatia. The plaque, featuring a resolution admitting Dr. Brozovich to the Order of Stjepan Radić, was signed December 21, 2009 by (then) Croatian President Stjepan Mesić. The reception, designed to honor visiting dignitaries, CroatiaFest donors, the CroatiaFest Team (headed by Cathryn Morovich and Kristen LeMieux) was held in the Center House Bistro where the local musical combo “Bonaca” provided wonderful music throughout.
”TAMBURAŠKI SASTAV BARABE” FROM PITTSBURGH
In keeping with the intent to provide top-notch entertainment, the committee brought in “Tamburaški Sastav Barabe” as the featured musical group for this year's festival. “Barabe”, who came to Seattle amid much acclaim and high expectations, left no-one disappointed. The group shared the stage with Seattle's own “Sinovi Tamburitzans” for the Saturday evening welcoming dance and then dazzled with two hour-long stage perfomances in front of a huge crowd on Sunday. Thanks to “Barabe” and to the Ethnic Arts Cultural Enhancement Fund for the matching monies that made the Barabe visit possible. Other groups sharing the stage with “Barabe” on Sunday were the “Tamburaški Orkestar Kardinal Stepinac”, “Hrvatski Vitezovi”, the “Seattle Jr. Tamburitzans”, the “Vela Luka Croatian Dance Ensemble” with “Ruže Dalmatinke”, the “Radost Folk Ensemble”, “Bonaca” and two klapa singing groups.
CULTURE AND SPORT
The theme of CroatiaFest 2010, Culture and Sport, provided opportunity for some wonderful presentations in the gallery and on the main floor display panels. The gallery's traditional presentations, arranged by Beverly Prkacin Read, featured the life of Ivan Matetic Ronjgov and his monumental contributions to the music of the Istria/Kvarner region and the works of guest artist Amra Bilić Hamzic. The Matetic Ronjgov exhibit was made possible by the generosity of the composer's nephew, Robert Mattich, and his wife Delma. Amra, who left Sarajevo with her husband in 1994, debuted her new collection of paintings entitled "Life 2010."
John Morovich provided a major thrust to this year's gallery with a unique historical exhibit entitled "Život naš je američki, srce Croatie / Our Lives are American, Our Hearts Croatian." The exhibit
explained how for over 100 years Croatians of the Pacific Northwest have preserved their culture through music, dance and theater. This history was illustrated by means of historical photographs, memorabilia, instruments and traditional garments.
35 PACIFIC NORTHWEST CROATIAN ATHLETES
The main floor display panels (upright 4' x 7' surfaces) have always been an appreciated element of CroatiaFest. This year's panels, following on the heels of those of previous years-- those that focused on the maritime, mining and Croatian women -- centered on the achievement of Croatians in the field of sports. Primary attention was given to 35 Pacific Northwest Croatian athletes, with each being represented by a photo and a short resume of their achievements. These included golfer Fred Couples, Major League Baseball stars Johnny Pesky and Mickey Lolich (both from Portland, Oregon), University of Washington football All-Americans Max Starcevich, Vic Markov and Jason Chorak and many others including eight women. A special list highlighted famed Croatian athletes and coaches who were not necessarily from the Pacific Northwest. Included here were such figures as Roger Maris, Kevin McHale, George Mikan, Bill Belichick, Lou and Nick Saban and Heisman Trophy winners Frank Sinkwich and Gary Beban.
ALL THE WHILE.....
Also available while all of the above attractions were on-going were a series of lectures and panel discussions, access to several booths that were vending Croatian-oriented merchandise and two stimulating food demonstrations. Turn away crowds in fact watched Anka Kolega describe her method of making “palaćinke” and Vinko Lisica brew up a kettle-full of “Dalmatian brudet”. In searching for a way to summarize this wonderful event, we find it fitting to revisit the words of Marija Grgurevic-Yerkovic who wrote at the conclusion of our first CroatiaFest in 2004: "At the end of it all, as we walked off into that lovely fall evening, Seattle Center's International Fountain in the center of the park was playing soft Dalmatian tunes. It was a perfect end to a perfect day, one that left us proud to be connected to such a rich and beautiful heritage and to such a talented, resourceful and committed community."