Pelhřimov: a town that attracts extraordinary people

Photo: archive of Good Day Agency

Just as the town of Plzen is associated with great beer and the town of Pardubice with gingerbread, the town of Pelhřimov brings to mind amazing feats, records and curiosities. The town got its reputation thanks to the Good Day Agency which is behind the annual Pelhřimov –Town of Records Festival and the Museum of Records and Curiosities which both attract thousands of visitors. I spoke to Vláďa Donát, who closely cooperates with the Good Day Agency, about how it all began.

Photo: archive of Good Day Agency
“It’s an interesting story. There was a group of enthusiastic guys who got together one day and decided to do something crazy and when I say “crazy” I really mean crazy – they decided to cover the distance from the town of Pelhřimov to a hill called Křemešník, which is twelve kilometers away, by doing somersaults - and they did! They did 12,000 somersaults in the course of 8 hours and 15 minutes and that was the first record they set and then it kind of opened up the way for them to found the Good Day Agency and from there things just rolled.”

When was this?

“This happened in the year 1990 –so very soon after the Velvet Revolution.”

Since then Pelhřimov has become THE Czech city of records and curiosities. It holds an annual festival of records – can you tell us about that –what goes on?

What is the atmosphere like?

“Every year, during the second weekend in June, Pelhřimov holds the Town of Records Festival and thousands of visitors come to see dozens of Czech and world record attempts in a vast number of areas – these are sportspeople, stunts, different curiosities and interesting things and everyone who comes enjoys a great atmosphere with concerts, dance shows, lots of good food and it is also possible that if you do come you may become part of a record which visitors are part of every year.”

So there are no limits on what disciplines are allowed – anyone can come and join in?

“Well, no there is a registration process that has to go through the Good Day Agency, but it also happens that a visitor who comes is sometimes asked to participate in a planned record.”

As for the record setting – this can be basically anything at all, if you register in time you can set a record in whatever you chose?

Photo: archive of Good Day Agency
“Yes, if you register in time, you can set a records in eating the most of a specific food, being the strongest man or making something that is the tallest, longest or shortest – so it is really a fun time and there are so many things happening simultaneously that everyone can find something that they are interested in.”

And there are judges judging this? I suppose it happens out in the open on the town’s main square?

“Yes, in the town square there are several big podiums set up and everything is happening right there with the judges from the Good Day Agency making sure that everything is according to the rules and if the record actually does happen then you get an entry into the Czech Book of Records.”

So it is open to Czechs only? Or can foreigners participate as well?

“As far as I know – and I am not quite certain about this actually –this is both for Czechs and foreigners because it has to do with a record being set here in the Czech Republic – in the town of Pelhřimov. Though the Good Day Agency also cooperates with the Guinness Book of Records so there are both Czech and World records set here.”

So how many Czech records have actually got into the Guinness Book of Records?

“A number of Czech records have made it. About 1,000 Czech records are added to the database each year and every record set must be attended by a judge from the Good Day Agency and those that are world records make it into the Guinness Book of Records.”

A thousand Czech records a year – including the really whacky ones?

Photo: archive of Good Day Agency
“Yes, that includes everything, there is really no limit to what people can do. The idea is to have fun and to be the best in what you do. So just chose your own thing and have fun!”

What are some of your own personal favorites? Something you saw with your own eyes or liked the most?

“There are so many that it is hard to choose. Actually, if I may say so, my daughter set a record as well – she was the youngest reader. She was a year-and-a-half-old and she knew the whole alphabet, she could read the whole alphabet, so there are small children, sportspeople, stunts men, people who can drink the most beer or eat the most fruit dumplings, and then there are artists who are able to do incredible things like paint using just their mouth or make very interesting things from materials that you wouldn’t think are all that interesting.”

As you already mentioned there is a Book of Czech Records and I believe it is now also available in English –what does it contain?

“Yes, an annual book of records does come out in Czech and there is also an English language book of Czech records but that is slightly a different thing. It’s actually a great book, very diverse, lots of pictures – almost 2,000 pictures – and the reason that it is so interesting is that it includes not only the individual records set in Pelhřimov but it is also a kind of introduction to the Czech Republic. It includes all the most important and interesting places, where to go and what to see, interesting people from our history and present, it introduces our former presidents, our scientists, for instance the inventor of contact lenses Otto Wichterle, the country’s leading composers, Dvořák and Smetana, writer Franz Kafka who was born in Prague and so on. You can find many interesting things about our country in this Czech Book of Records in English. It is kind of an introduction to the Czech Republic for anybody who wants to find out more about the country, what beautiful places are here, what interesting people…as well as so many of those individual records that we discussed before set by sportspeople, artists and other people who have done something that is amazing.”

Photo: archive of Good Day Agency
So it’s an entertaining way of learning about the Czech Republic – longest river, highest mountain and so on?

“Yes, exactly it’s a great book for somebody who has never been here to find out about the Czech Republic but also for somebody who has been here to find out how much they have not yet seen. Every region in the Czech Republic is introduced on two pages, every interesting thing in Prague and outside Prague is covered, so it is much more than just a book with records from individuals – it is a book that introduces our history, our present, the beautiful places and the wonderful people that live here.”

Going back to the town of Pelhřimov –it also boasts a museum of records and curiosities – what is there on show?

“Yes, the Museum of Records and Curiosities is divided into two parts. One part is located in the old city tower where on five floors you can see exhibited all kinds of different records that include Czech and world records in any area that you can imagine. The second part of the museum is in the headquarters of the Good Day Agency and that is quite a unique exhibition because it showcases a number of works by a man who made everything from matches. So you have a perfect model of the Eiffel Tower, you have a guitar that is fully functional; you have so many things made from matches. Over 63,000 hours of work went into making all these exhibits, so both of these museum sections are open and they are fun to see.”

We have been talking about the Good Day Agency – do you happen to know why it is called the Good Day Agency?

“That I don’t know, but knowing the people who work there every day is a good day for them!”

Ship made of matches,  photo: archive of Good Day Agency
Finally, if there’s someone who wants to take part in setting a record by when do they need to contact the Good Day Agency?

“There is no set date – you just contact them and then they will set up a meeting with you and then you can present your area of interest, what you do, what you are best at and – if you are the best – who knows, you may become one of the record holders in the Czech Republic.”

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