According to the audience vote the best group was the Folklore Ensemble of the Srijem Croatian Culture Centre of Srijemska Mitrovica, with second place going to the Ruža Folklore Society of Filderstadt, and third place to the Don Josip Kokorić Folklore Federation of the CCM in Nuremburg. The folklore review featured performances by nineteen Croatian folklore groups from Germany, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Switzerland. All of the folklore ensembles and the folk costume pageant winners were presented with CHF commendations.

The first Gathering of the Guardians of Croatian Ethno Heritage was staged at the Filderstadt municipal sports arena on October 12. The event was organised by the Ruža Folklore Society and held under the auspices of the local Queen of Peace Croatian Catholic Community. The folklore review featured performances by nineteen Croatian folklore groups from Germany, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Switzerland.
The host’s invitation was answered by the folklore troupes of the Croatian Catholic Mission (CCM) in Darmstadt, the Ružmarin Folklore Federation of the Croatian Catholic Community in Reutlingen, the Vila Velebita Folklore Federation of the Croatian Catholic Community in Sindelfingen, the Aurora Folklore Federation of the CCM of Mühlheim/Oberhausen, the Don Josip Kokorić Folklore Federation of the CCM in Nuremburg, the Kristali Folklore Federation of the CCM in Offenbach, the Folklore Society of the Croatian Community of Vaihingen-Enz, the Adria Folklore Society of the CCM of Duisburg, the Zvonimir Croatian Folklore Society of Sindelfingen, the Krešimir Folklore Federation of the Croatian Catholic Community of Bad Canstatt, the Tamburica Folklore Ensemble of the Croatian Catholic Community of Esslingen and the CCM Frankfurt’s Croatia Ensemble from Germany. Participating from the Swiss city of Basel was the Croatia Culture & Arts Society. The Fra Bernardin Smoljan Croatian Culture & Arts Society of Rodoč near Mostar represented Bosnia-Herzegovina and travelling from Srijemska Mitrovica in Serbia was the folklore ensemble of the Srijem Croatian Culture Centre. Representing Croatia at the event were three folklore ensembles: the Rudar Culture & Arts Society of Glogovac near Koprivnica, the Zdenac folklore ensemble from Garešnica and the Dunav Croatian Culture & Music Society of Vukovar.
The concert event drew a capacity audience with the 1,100-seat arena too small to hold all those looking for tickets for this evening of Croatian folklore.
The official opening of the review kicked off at 2 P.M. with a welcome speeches and a prayer led by Father Ante Buljan, the priest at the Croatian Catholic Community of Filderstadt. A parade of all the participants made the rounds of the arena followed by their performances under the attentive eyes of a panel of judges that included Vidoslav Bagur, Vjekoslav Martinić and Srebrenka Šeravić. The panel later discussed the programmes, choreography, dance, costumes and music at a meeting with all of the ensemble leaders. All of the folklore ensembles invested a great deal of effort to be at their best and they truly did put on a wonderful and diverse Croatian folklore programme featuring the dances of the Bosanska Posavina, Baranja, Slavonia, Međimurje, Podravina, Bilogora, Zagorje and Podvelebitski Kanal regions, the towns of Primošten and Ražanac, the Banat and Western Herzegovina regions and the Linđo.
The audience, however, decided on the best performance. According to their vote the best group was the Folklore Ensemble of the Srijem Croatian Culture Centre, with second place going to the Ruža Folklore Society of Filderstadt, and third place to the Don Josip Kokorić Folklore Federation of the CCM in Nuremburg.
This was followed by a pageant of girls representing the folklore ensembles competing for the title most beautiful girl in Croatian folk costume. The decision in this segment was a tough one, with all of the girls looking wonderful in stunning folk costumes and all successfully fielding questions from programme moderator Frano Ridjan. First prize went to Nataša Pavlović of Bad Canstatt wearing a gold-laced folk costume from Gorjani near Đakovo. The first runner-up was Agneza Slaviček of Filderstadt in a Šestine folk costume, followed by second runner-up Ana Božić of Duisburg in a Međimurje region folk costume from the village of Goričan.
All of the folklore ensembles and the folk costume pageant winners were presented commendations from the Croatian Heritage Foundation.
There were a number of nice additional performances and real surprises during the evening, such as a performance by a group of players, members of the Adria ensemble out of Duisburg, performing under the name Zlatni Zvuci (Golden Sounds) – they presented the tambour and many other traditional Croatian instruments.
Particularly touching was a performance by a large choir composed entirely of the participants of the Croatian Heritage Foundation’s School of Croatian Folklore, also members of the participating ensembles, singing the old melody Odriši se barka od kraja (Let Loose the Boat’s Mooring Line), a song that has marked the close of many folklore courses and, over the years, become a folklore hymn of sorts.
The Meeting of the Guardians of Croatian Ethno Heritage ran late into the night to the sounds of the Slavonske Lole tamburitza band.
Our congratulations to the hosts and organisers of the event, the Ruža Folklore Society and the Queen of Peace Croatian Catholic Community of Filderstadt for their wonderful idea to gather and create bonds between Croatian folklore ensembles from different countries and to promote the beauty of our traditional culture. It was a well conceived and brilliantly organised programme that, we are sure, was equally enjoyed by both the audience and the participants.

Text by: Srebrenka Šeravić