The Croatian Centre in Vienna organised its 72nd successful Gradišće Croatian Ball, gathering over 1,300 guests from across Austria, Croatia, Slovakia, Hungary, Germany and Italy, with many leading figures from the political, diplomatic, culture and business sectors, including Croatian Heritage Foundation director Mijo Marić
The guests of honour of the Gradišće Croatian Ball were Austrian federal minister for culture, the arts, media and relations with the European Union Gernot Blümel and Croatian ambassador Vesna Cvjetković, joined by many members of the diplomatic and consular corps in Vienna. Also joining the many enthusiast of this traditional ball were Croatian Heritage Foundation director Mijo Marić, deputy state secretary at the State Office for Croats Abroad Ivana Perkušić, City of Zagreb culture office head Tedi Lušetić, Varaždin County prefect Radimir Čačić, and musicologist and retired diplomat Zdenka Weber. The many society figures were welcomed by Petar Tyran, the president of the organising committee and the chief editor of the local Croatian News (Hrvatske novine), Gabrijela Novak Karall, the secretary of the local Croatian Centre and Tibor Jugović, the president of the Croatian Centre and of the Gradišće Croat Culture Society, who officially opened the Croatian Ball. In his inspired welcome address Mr Jugović noted the pride the Croatians of Burgenland felt for their annual ball, a reflection of the traditions, culture and customs they have nurtured in Austria for almost five centuries.
A fantastic addition to this year’s ball was a presentation of Slavonian folk songs and dances performed by the HKUD Osijek 1862 Croatian Culture and Arts Society folklore ensemble. Minister Blümel spoke highly of the Gradišće Croatian Ball, noting that it was a nice tradition with a wonderful atmosphere. “I am delighted to again be a guest of the event,” Blümel said. Croatian Heritage Foundation director Marić noted that “this ball shows that the Croatian identity has been nurtured for centuries among the Gradišće Croats such that we recognise in it original Croatian culture and customs integrated into Austrian traditions.” Marić expressed his delight with the excellent turnout for the event and the tradition this ball has nurtured for many decades now.
The lavish programme included performances by twelve bands from Austria, Croatia and Italy: the HKUD Osijek 1862 ensemble, the Poljanci band, Šokadija Beč, the Zagreb Orchestra, the Berde Band, KroaTarantata, Turbokrowodn, What’sUpCi, the Dubrovački kavaljeri ensemble, and the Čunovski bećari, Scooby Duo and Pax bands, the latter also celebrating its 40th anniversary. The KroaTarantata band out of the town of Mundimitar, home to an ethnic Croatian community in the heart of Italy, performed a Molise region quadrille. The excellent performance highlighted the bonds between the ethnic Croatian communities of Molise in Italy and Burgenland in Austria. Media coverage for the event was provided by Vienna’s TV Wien.
A special series of the Vukovar-based Borovo shoe company’s Startas model has been created for this event featuring the logo of the Gradišće Croatian Ball in Vienna, available for orders and purchases at the Croatian Centre in Vienna. Wine for the occasion was provided by the Weingut Walter winery—a quaffable white from mixed-variety vineyards (Gemischter Satz), with other halls at the event serving up a rich mix of wines and culinary specialities from Croatia’s northern region of Slavonia into the early hours. There was no end of fun and the hosts said their goodbyes at the close: until we meet again at the next ball!
Editor: Vesna Kukavica; Photography: Snježana Herek and Petar Tyran