Janosik's Ducat Festival to welcome visitors in Roznov next weekend

Next weekend, the Moravian town of Roznov pod Radhostem will host a Slovak folklore festival called Janosik's Ducat. A Slovak version of Robin Hood, Juro Janosik was an 18th century hero who also "took from the rich to give to the poor", and as we'll hear from Alena Skodova, there will be several events at the festival linked in one way or another with Janosik:

I spoke to the director of the festival, Dr Vlastimil Fabisik, who told me how the idea to organise Janosik's Ducat, his own brainchild, was born:

"The festival came into existence in 1999 with the aim of presenting Czech ensembles which perform Slovak folklore. That idea had been in my head for quite a long time, I wanted ensembles working in the Czech Republic to have a place where they can meet and exchange experiences. Secondly, we'll invite Slovak folklore ensembles which work in other countries in Europe, and last but not least, there's yet another, important idea behind the festival: to help develop and cultivate relations between the Czech Republic and Slovakia, which was of course one country until the not-so-distant past. That's why the festival is taking place in the town of Roznov pod Radhostem, near the Slovak border."

Slovak folklore ensembles are also regular guests - they are invited to help their Czech colleagues find greater inspiration after seeing and hearing native Slovaks "in action."

But why does the festival bear the name of Janosik and what accompanying events it will feature - was my next question for Dr. Fabisik.

The festival is called Janosik's Ducat and I always compile its programme to feature as much of Janosik as possible. I've been carrying a Janosik ducat - an old coin - in my purse for several years now, I got it somewhere to bring me good luck, so that's where the name of the festival comes from. This year, it will feature five ensembles called Janosik. That is something that even the Slovaks themselves have never tried. Another venture will be a meeting of men whose surname is Janosik. Five of them will come from the Czech Republic and five from Slovakia, and they will compete in various disciplines, including mowing grass and cutting wood.

Part of the festival will be a championship in churning butter, and it will feature two-member women teams from five countries. Also included will be both serious and cheerful discussions about Juraj Janosik himself, whether he really was a hero in the first place.

If you feel like spending next weekend in Roznov, you can buy pretty souvenirs there as well, as there will be stands in the local open air museum, selling hand-made products by Czech and Slovak domestic craftsmen. Mr. Fabisik told me that products sold at the festival will only be first quality products, which one cannot buy elsewhere.