Sunday, 19 August 2007

Kojetín Fair

Kojetín’s annual fair took place this weekend. It was a colourful outburst of regional costume, food, drink, traditional music and dancing; all under the blazing summer sun.

Kojetín is one of the few remaining villages that uphold the centuries-old tradition of the Ride of the Kings. An earlier post on this blog talks about the big, famous ride of the kings at Vlcnov, but the one at Kojetín this weekend was a much smaller and more local affair. It also has a peculiar central Moravian twist, in that it has evolved to represent the story of Ječmínek (King Barleycorn), the mythical figure connected with the nearby chateau at Chropyně.

The ride was one of the first events of the day, winding its way through the streets of Kojetín, the king accompanied here by women in men’s clothing. The ride is followed by performances of the traditional song and dance on a wooden stage erected for the purpose. Some of the younger performers were typically shy and off-key, but as most of the crowd was probably related to one of the kids in some way or other, nobody was really bothered, and there were plenty of proud parents filling up their video recorders in front of the stage.

The bulk of the crowd didn’t seem too bothered what was or wasn’t on stage. The dozens of benches and tables were are full, plenty of beer was being drunk and I had the impression that people were happy to be out in the sunshine with their friends and neighbours, enjoying one of the last lazy summer weekends before the hard work of the autumn harvest.

Even the one odd character that spent the day waving a black flag (and pushing his barrow about how he was living in an unjust state and had been badly treated by corrupt courts) seemed to be having a fairly pleasant time. Incidentally nobody was very surprised or bothered that this fellow was around, so I’d hazard a guess that he’s a regular feature of Kojetín’s Masaryk square.

The food was typical festival fare, thick boiled sausages, potato pancakes, Turkish honey, popcorn and fairy floss. Despite the burčak (something between grape cider and extremely young wine) being early this year, the Kojetíners were all sticking with beer. Perhaps it was loyalty to the high-quality hops that come from this richly agricultural region, but more likely it’s just a beer kind of town more than it’s a wine kind of town.

Whichever tipple you prefer, Kojetín is a pleasant and honest little place to visit, especially if you can catch it on the weekend of the fair. If you’re around this way next year, maybe I’ll see you there?

No comments: