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Volume 10, No. 4, WINTER 2002

Slovak Heritage Live

A Newsletter of the
Slovak Heritage and Cultural Society of British Columbia
published four times a year

Summer issue was published in October 2002 and it was mailed to 1200 recipients world wide. 

Altar of Birth from the Church of St. James in Levoča

Dear friends as you read these lines I am in Slovakia bringing my best friend Maksi’s ashes home to be buried in early spring with his parents in Bratislava. Soon the Christmas season will start and Christmas is a time of joy and giving, so please remember us. You know that we need every cent to survive producing the newsletter now in it’s tenth year. Please remember that NO GIFT IS TOO SMALL OR TOO GENEROUS. I sure hope that all of you will have joyous Christmas season. Early September we have changed our Internet hosting company and now we get 300MB of space for just US$19.95. We have tripled our capacity and decreased the cost at the same time. In October alone in the first 8 days we had over 4000 hits per day and visitors from the following countries: Slovak Republic, Hungary, Canada, Japan, Czech Republic, Croatia, Australia, Austria, Poland, Netherlands, Mexico, Germany, Sweden, France, United Kingdom, United States, Spain, Belgium, Finland, Portugal, Romania, Argentina, Greece, and Italy...

Early this year  I received an invitation from the folklore group Jánošík to go with them this summer to two international folklore festivals. The first one being in Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in town Iskele and the second festival in town of Bursa, Turkey. The invitation sounded very interesting and after a while I decided to join them and go. I used my frequent flyer points from Air Canada for my ticket and flew Vancouver-Frankfurt and then to Vienna, Austria. As usual the flight was fantastic. In Vienna my friend Miroslava Dulová met me and soon I was in Bratislava. Immediately after my arrival I went to pick up my car. I decided to rent a car in Slovakia from a Slovak company. While I think they are also very expensive, but less expensive then the multinational car rental companies with huge stock of cars and not too many renters at the moment. I got some kind of Škoda, not bad, fast, however no air-conditioning that I am used to for years. It really gets hot in Slovakia in summer, but since I needed the car only for few days prior to my departure for Cyprus I didn’t mind the extra sweat. I picked my cell phone and of course the batteries were dead and I left my cigarette lighter charger at home in Vancouver so I had to charge the phone battery over night. The first morning, while I was still very tired from the jet lag the phone rung and it was my correspondent and Camera person from Liptovská Teplička, Marcela Slmolárova informing me that our friend and a member of folklore group Tepličan from Liptovská Teplička, Stanka Bulavová of whom I wrote in past issues passed away after almost a year long battle with leukemia on June 19 and the funeral will be on Friday June 21. That was shocking news as she would have been 18 years old on October 8 of this year. So I rearranged my plans for the next few days and I went to Liptovská Teplička...

We had organized celebration of Maksi’s life party according to his wishes. Maksi wanted to be remembered at a party, no tears. Almost everyone in the community attended and there were speeches by many, remembering his kindness, we had country music performers, potluck food, lots of beer and wine. We set up a table for Maksi’s remembrance displaying his coats of arms dating to 1248, his swimming medals, pictures from early days in Canada, his 62nd birthday party last December and final days in the hospital. We had visitors from Vancouver, Alberta, Virginia USA, and what was most emotional for me were the five nurses from the 100 Mile District Regional Hospital who also came to pay their last respects for Maksi. He touched lives of so many. All of us had a really good time and we received many positive comments for organizing this celebration and it gave people new ideas to memorials. Sunday, 15 of his closest friends met at his house and we separated some of his ashes for his son Robert and friends John and Lou. The weather was no good as it was raining all morning, but as soon as we went out the clouds have parted, sun peaked through the clouds and it was sunny. We walked few yards to his favorite spot near his house to spread his ashes. Each of us took a handful of ashes and said last goodbye to Maksi and threw the ashes into air changing him to small white clouds. Just as we were doing it couple of whiskey jacks flew by and landed on a tree near by and watched what we were doing. I am sure one of them was Maksi himself just flying by to see what all the excitement is around his house.
Following we had a really great roast beef lunch.
The original idea was to go to his favorite place at BUTE LOOK OUT and spread the ashes there, but since it was raining we went to plan B. We will try to spread his ashes at this location on Sunday October 13 a day before Canadian Thanksgiving.

By Dana Bentchik
I haven’t written for your newsletter for a while as I have kept myself busy with my daughter Tamara who is now 3 years old. She is already a little lady and I try to take her everywhere with me, so she experiences all those things and events I write about for Slovak Heritage Live. Since Tammy was 9 months old, she has been attending all rehearsals and performances of the folk group Matičiarik where I lead the folk band of children-musicians. This summer Matičiarik took part at the folk festival Detva 2002 which I am going to tell you about.

DETVA 2002
Last year Ondro Mihal wrote an article about Detva 2001 and if I compare the two festivals, I must say, that this year’s Detva was much more dynamic or “happier,” I would say. Some programs last year were quite tiresome and long but, fortunately, those were replaced this year by lively and dynamic performances of good folk groups with fantastic musicians, dancers and singers. All who took part at this year’s Detva festival can be proud of their performance on Detva’s amphitheater stage.
I’m sure you already know that the festival in Detva lasts three days. It always starts on the second Friday of July and finishes on Sunday. Structure of the festival is very well known to those who attend it regularly. It’s the same every year.
Friday is a  “gathering” day. Folk groups arrive and their first steps usually lead to the amphitheater where they take part at rehearsals. Friday program starts at 8 pm and the first part of the program is always called “Welcome to Detva.” Home folk groups from Podpoľanie are the very first ones one the stage to cheer everybody up. At 9:30 the stage is dedicated to a certain region of Slovakia- different one each year, this year it was Horehronie (Upper Hron)...

By Dana Bentchik
I remember the moment when I first met Vlado Linder very well. Me and my friends from the folk band Valaška, I used to play in, couldnt believe when he told us that he was Canadian. Vlado’s Slovak seemed to be too good for someone who’d spent so many years in an English speaking environment. Vlado really must have had a good time (and fun) “shocking us” when he showed his Canadian passport to us. Well, at that time I didn’t know I would once become a correspondent for Slovak Heritage Live-his newsletter and his “baby.” (I didn’t even know it existed then) And I didn’t know I would once visit Canada, the country he lives in, speaks about so much, loves and admires.
My dream to see North America came true last October when my daughter Tammy and I were invited to spend a few days in Oshawa, Ontario, visiting someone special. Our trip only lasted 10 days and in such a short time your chances to see “everything” were quite limited. Anyway, we managed to see Niagara Falls, city of Toronto (CN Tower is a great attraction), University of Toronto ... and, you know, places where kids love going, like Toronto ZOO. Tammy absolutely loved it and I suppose moose became her favorite. How am I supposed to explain to her now, that moose is not a pet and she can’t have it at home?...

By Ondrej Mihal
It was bound to happen even in Slovakia. Commercialism took over what used to be one of the best and most respected festivals in Slovakia. This being the year of the National elections meant that the place was over run by politicians who all wanted to present themselves. And present themselves they did, sometimes to the embarrassment of their own political party. The worse example was the buzzing by a rickety plane of the Slovak National Party (SNS), which dropped political leaflets by the thousands during the Sunday televised Gala program. Not to be outdone, the Gala program this year was both moderated on stage and televised for the first time by non-state Markiza TV, which has no clue what Slovak folklore is. During the Gala program, there were audio Commercials (since we could not see the Video part of the commercial). The public booed for the 5 minutes but saved their best for when the cameras started running again and booed some more. Yes commercialism has arrived but it made Východná a less pleasant place to see folklore in Slovakia...

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Copyright © Vladimir Linder 2002 
3804 Yale Street, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada V5C 1P6
The above article and photographs may not be copied, reproduced, republished, or redistributed by any means including electronic, without the express written permission of Vladimir Linder. All rights reserved.