Gathered for the opening of the TamFest, featuring the American, Canadian and Croatian national anthems, were some 350 tamburitza players and other folklore enthusiasts, the CFU leadership, Croatian ambassador Šimunović, and numerous fans of tamburitza music and folklore dances.
After a one year hiatus due to the coronavirus scare the curtains have opened again for the participants of the Croatian Fraternal Union adult tamburitza festival, featuring the sounds of tamburitza playing and lively Croatian folk costumes. Gathered for the gala opening of the 34th festival—at which we sang the American, Canadian and Croatian national anthems—were some 350 tamburitza players and other folklore enthusiasts, the CFU leadership, Croatian ambassador Pjer Šimunović, and numerous fans of tamburitza music and the songs and dances of the ancestral homeland—distant but always in our hearts and spirits.
Seventeen tamburitza and dance ensembles performed over the course of the two-day event, hosted by the Seven Springs Mountain Resort near Pittsburgh. With precautionary measures in place on account of COVID-19 fears, and with the very disciplined behaviour of the guests and performers, the event featured performances by the Sacred Heart Tamburitza Ensemble of McKeesport (PA), the Kraljica Katarina group out of Cleveland (OH), the St George Adult Tamburitzans of Cokeburg (PA), the Hoosier Hrvati of Merrillville (IN), the Ensemble Hrvatski Dom Rankin of Rankin (PA), the South Florida Tamburitza Orchestra of Deerfield Beach (FL), the Javor Pittsburgh group out of Pittsburgh (PA), the Hrvatski Običaj group out of Kansas City (KS), the Ensemble Ljeljo group of Pittsburgh (PA), the Žumberčani group out of Cleveland (OH), the Ansambl Sveti Nikola of Alliquippa (PA), the St Lawrence Adult Tamburitzans of Steelton (PA), the Keystone Adult Tamburitzans of Pittsburgh (PA), the Croatian Folklore Ensemble Nova Nada of Detroit (MI), the Veseljaci group out of Farrell (PA), the Graničari ensemble of Milwaukee (WI), and the Penn-Sembles group out of Versailles (PA).
This accounts for half of the tamburitza and dance ensembles with members over 19 years of age gathered under the umbrella of the Croatian Fraternal Union of America. Congratulations and praise came from all sides, with everyone very much mindful that this unusual virus is still with us and spreading, and that the Canada-US border remains closed. Our Canadian members and fans of good music had the opportunity on the eve of the TamFest to participate online via the Zoom service provider and follow the events at the Seven Springs Resort with its wonderful natural setting. All the credit for this online networking of the members and friends of the CFU, throughout the year and on the eve of the TamFest, goes to Scott Kuren of Steelton. When the coronavirus scare took grip in January of 2020 this very talented tamburitza player and intellectual with a PhD under his belt created the CroTini show, which kicked off the event in style on Friday evening, inviting Croatians across North America to get in on the event live or online. As the event DJ he played all the Croatian hits, video networking from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from the Gulf of Mexico to the north of Canada.
Leading the festival events Croatian Fraternal Union national president Mr Edward Pazo thanked the performers and underlined the unity and harmony present in the work of the CFU, which continues its long tradition, now in its second century, of working to preserve and disseminate Croatian cultural heritage, traditions and customs to new generations, and to our American and Canadian friends. The names of many of our American friends are featured in the event brochure, including David Jones, Dan Plumley, Greg Jonson, Henry Temchin, Sue Ellen Flescher and Debbie Stellar.
In his speech, ambassador Šimunović spoke of the history of the CFU and the recent past when its members offered great help to their compatriots in the ancestral homeland during the Homeland War and during the post-war period, in our recovery and accession to the European Union and NATO. He noted that the reputation of the CFU was of great help on Capitol Hill in seeking to do away with the entry visas for the United States of America and the double-taxation of our citizens when moving to Croatia.
Also noteworthy is the strength the Croatian Fraternal Union draws from its large membership, its financial stability and its astute and experienced leadership, and the ongoing work with our young members. Enrolling new members is critical because it brings fresh blood into the organisation, which ensures further progress for this eminent organisation gathering ethnic Croatians. This message was echoed by the speakers at the festival, including Ms Bernadette Luketich-Sikaras (national secretary/treasurer), the priests Joseph Rudjak and William Hritsko, and myself (Franjo Bertović, national vice president/member services). Also joining us for this festival was Croatian honorary consul in Pittsburgh Dr Marion Vujevich with his wife Barbara. A Catholic “tamburitza” mass on 30 October was celebrated by William Hritsko, himself a tamburitza player active among Croatian tamburitza groups and always a very welcome face at our national events. (https://mojahrvatska.vecernji.hr/)
By: Franjo Bertović