This year the host of the XI Island of Krk Emigrants` Day was the municipality of Dobrinj, and the many emigrant natives of the island of Krk from around the world, most in the USA, were greeted and welcomed by the head of the municipality Neven Komadina and by Vanja Pavlovec on behalf of the Croatian Heritage Foundation.
The visiting emigrants gathered at St Stephen`s cathedral, where a mass was served in the Old Slavonic language, and later on the plaza square in Dobrinj where they had the opportunity to watch a performance by a children`s folklore ensembles given in their honour. The ensemble performed the dobrinjski tanc (Dobrinja Dance) to the accompaniment of the sopela instrument to the evident delight of their guests.
The emigrant community hailing from the island of Krk is very numerous as people began leaving the island quite early on, by the second half of the 19th century, and the process continued in waves, with the last great wave of emigration occurring during the 1960s. After the 1960s emigration occurred on a more or less individual basis. The greatest number of Krk islanders moved to the USA, followed by Canada, Australia and other countries. Following the principle of “chain migration” the greatest number settled in New York and the current figures have about four thousand Krk natives and their descendants in New York across four generations. The next largest group lives in Chicago and there are communities in other US cities. In Canada they have settled for the most part in the cities of Toronto and Vancouver.
They began establishing organisations in New York quite early on, and in 1895 people from the town of Omiš founded the St Nicholas of Omiš Society, with the majority of Krk islanders gathered by 1900 in the Croatian Philanthropic Society of St Nicholas of the Island of Krk in New York. The first associations were based on the principles of fraternalism. Since then Krk islanders have established fourteen associations, the majority of which have now ceased to function, with only a few heritage associations drawing a modest membership to celebrations of local patron saints. The more active groups were more recently founded and include the Omiš Society, the Island of Krk Women`s Club, the Dubašnica Society and the Island of Krk Club.
Emigrants from Krk have strong ties to their native island and many have renovated their old homes, which they visit regularly as do their children, descendants and friends. They hope to see their descendants continue the traditions from the old country. The gatherings on Emigrants` Day aim to facilitate this and to contribute to preserving this heritage and in linking their two homelands—the one from which they originated and the one in which they now live.