Valuable cultural promotion by the population and the state


7thMeeting of the Slovenes from the Raba Region in Kétvölgy and inauguration of the newly renovated culture house


Already for the 7th time, the Slovenes from the Raba Region gathered this year in order to celebrate a common day of culture. This year’s event took place in Kétvölgy (Verica Ritkarovci) and was mainly dedicated to youth, which had a positive effect on the overall picture of the meeting. In addition to the numerous musical and dance performances, the culture house in Kétvölgy was reopened after a renovation period of several years with a solemn ceremony and in the presence of some high representatives of Hungary and Slovenia.


Kétvölgy, August 19, 2007.


Regional culture in the presence of an international audience


Since the existence of these annual meetings of the Hungarian Slovenes, never ever have there come together so many people like this year in Verica-Ritkarovci (Kétvölgy). On that Sunday, almost one thousand guests from near and far gathered in a capacious festival tent in Kétvölgy. Together with the local Slovenes, also Slovenes from Budapest, Mosonmagyaróvár, Szombathely and even from various other European countries such as Germany, Switzerland and Serbia travelled to the event. The Association of the Slovenes in Hungary, the municipality of Kétvölgy and the Centre for Tourism and Information of Moravske Toplice (Slovenia) had organised the meeting, which offered an extensive and varied programme. Contemporaneously to this event, the village day of Kétvölgy, the main attraction of which was the inauguration and consecration of the culture house, took place. As it is common in the Raba Region, the organizers were awaiting the incoming guests with schnaps and pastries. Furthermore, each guest received a welcome gift in form of a small jug in memory of the potter of Kétvölgy, Károly Doncsecz who had deceased a while ago. After the appearance by the Slovene folklore group „Gorički Lajkoši“ from Gornji Petrovci (Slowenien), Klara Fodor  (the Secretary of the Slovene Self-administration in Hungary) opened the cultural programme. She addressed the international audience with a warm welcome and explained the course of the event in Slovene and Hungarian.


The preservation of Slovene culture and the invigoration of regional cooperation


Numerous representatives of Hungary and Slovenia were present at this year’s gathering: József Hirnök, the President of the Slovene Self-administration in Hungary, András Doncsecz, the Mayor of Kétvölgy, Martina Vink-Kranjec, the Manager of the Centre for Tourism and Information of Moravske Toplice and Ladislav Lipič, the Ambassador of the Republic of Slovenia in Budapest. Marijana Sukics from the magazine Porabje offered the simultaneous translation Hungarian and Slovene. In his speech, Hirnök emphasised the importance of such meetings for the Slovenes from the Raba Region. They had the possibility to get together and talk and could then go back home after a satisfactory day and with the feeling of belonging to the Slovenes of the Raba Region, Hirnök said. What is more, he encouraged the guests to keep cultivating their mother tongue, to preserve Slovene culture and to pass on their knowledge to their children, so that their offspring can identify themselves as Slovenes as well. András Doncsecz was pleased to see that this 7th meeting of the Slovenes from the Raba Region took place in his municipality Kétvölgy. He said that even though Kétvölgy was the second smallest village of the Raba Region, its population stuck together even more intensely. Furthermore, he was extraordinarily satisfied by the fact that the newly renovated culture house in Kétvölgy was inaugurated on the very same day. Martina Vink-Kranjec considered herself happy that the Centre for Tourism and Information of Moravske Toplice was given the opportunity to work together with Kétvölgy within the project “Interreg” and to get to know the places of the beautiful Slovene Raba Region. In addition, she referred to the significance of cross-border cooperation because it offered the most effective means of getting together and discussing. The Ambassador of the Republic of Slovenia in Budapest, Ladislav Lipič, emphasised the importance of events such as this year’s gathering in Kétvölgy. They offered great benefit to the regional development and strenghtened the good cooperation between Hungary and Slovenia. Both states considered the invigoration of the development in this region essential and supported the ethnic minorities on both sides of the borders, Lipič said.


Pithy sayings


Subsequent to the speeches of the political prominent figures, a women’s choir from Števanovci (Apatistvanfalva), went on the stage, which was decorated with flowers and basketry, and presented traditional popular songs from the Slovene Raba Region. Their performance was followed by a folklore group from Tešanovci (Slovenia) called KTD. In the beginning of their presentation, their charismatic singer addressed the audience and tried to heat up the atmosphere on the benches with pithy sayings. The cheerful members of the group pleased the audience with their catchy rhythms and vivacious dances. KTD had conquered the stage with great effort and caused some loud enthusiastic crows among the listeners. The first of totally three child (and youth) bands was the children’s musicians and dance group from Števanovci. They were dressed in costumes and performed traditional dances and were accompanied by an adult harmonica player. Once they were dancing in circles collectively holding hands, then they arranged themselves to pairs in order to present themselves to the audience as a unity once more. One element of their performance was especially popular among the audience: the game with the hats. A group of boys standing closely to each other exchanged their hats to and fro in rapid speed, and the boy whose hat had fallen to the floor had to retreat to the background. The boys and girls of the folklore group enjoyed their performance, and this pleasure positively conferred on the audience. The siblings Patrik and Patricija Bokan from Otovci (Slovenia) were the next ones to enter the stage. They showed, first alone and then as a duet, their skills on the accordion wearing traditional local costumes. Another youthful folklore group from Benedikt (Slovenia) initiated probably the most amusing performance of the day. The young singer of the group earned a great deal of laughter when he was successfully interacting with the audience uttering funny and tongue-in-cheek statements. The little entertainer precociously said that he would like to have a beer but could only drink non-alcoholic beer, because he still had to drive. When the four boys wearing blue shirts and playing on their original instruments unconcernedly sang a obscene song, the people in the audience did not blush but broke out in laughter. This impressive performance marked the ending of the musical part of the cultural programme. Klara Fodor went on stage once more and asked the audience to leave the festival tent and to walk towards the new culture house of the village, which was about to be inaugurated.


Culture house in new splendour


The prelude of the inauguration of this modernised cultural institution consisted in the performance of a women’s choir from the Slovene Raba Region. Amongst others, Péter Kiss, the Chancellor Minister of Hungary was invited for the handover of the culture house. Unfortunately, he could not be present himself but was represented by his ministerial administrator, Imre Márkus, who read Kiss’ welcome speech.


The Chancellor Minister praised the population of Kétvölgy for their outstanding cultural cohesion and the preservation of cultural life.


Effort of the population of Kétvölgy, Slovene-Hungarian and European support


Since the cultural house of Kétvölgy used to be in bad condition, it was necessary to modernise this institution. Its roof was the first unit to be renovated, an improvement for which the Hungarian government had secured financial help at the end of 2005. The project of the EU called “Interreg” paid their share to finance the internal and external renovation work. Furthermore, the city of Moravska Toplice in the Mura Region (Slovenia) embodied a trustful partner in the successful renovation of the culture house. However, the renovations would not have been completed, if the population of Kétvölgy did not have participated actively and voluntarily in the operations. Drago Šiftar (Slovene General Consul in Szentgotthárd) thanked both the population of Kétvölgy for their valuable aid and Andrea Kovács (Collaborator of the Slovene Consulate in Szentgotthárd) for the successful completion of this project. Martina Vink-Kranjec (Manager of the Centre for Tourism and Information Moravske Toplice) put emphasis on the significance of the border-crossing cooperation. András Doncsecz (Mayor of Kétvölgy) was fascinated by the fact that a new cultural institution was built in his municipality, from which its population can take profit. The renovated culture house features a modern architecture, and its core, a culture room equipped with a stage and numerous chairs, will surely give pleasure to the villagers in the future. Inside the culture house you can also find an information room, in which the visitors can be provided with worthy information on Kétvölgy and its neighbouring area. What is more, one can find the mayor’s office, the doctor’s practice and the office of the local Slovene self-administration in the culture house.


Consecration of the culture house by the clergy


After the inaugural speeches of the secular representatives of Hungary and Slovenia, three members of the clergy approached the podium. Priest Lojze Kozar from Odranci (Slovenia), priest Dejan Horvat from Čepinci (Slovenia) and priest Ferenc Merkli (Slovene Raba Region) welcomed their audience and expressed the relevance of this new cultural institution. Subsequent to their appearance, they sprinkled the entrance door of the building with holy water and thereby consecrated the house. After the red-blue-white and red-white-green ribbons had solemnly been cut, and the event was acknowledged with applause by the audience, the women’s choir from the Slovene Raba Region sang once more.


             Pictures                                        Tibor Horvath / Joël Gerber


P.S.: We too, Tibor Horvath and Joël Gerber, would like to thank the organizers of this 7th meeting of the Slovenes from the Raba Region and congratulate them on this successful cultural day. We are looking forward to taking part in next year’s edition of the meeting.