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Pilchard Festival

Submitted by on June 25, 2010 – 4:47 amNo Comment

What’s a pilchard? Road Trips Foodies can find out, up close and personal, at the Pilchard Festival! It takes place along the waterfront in Fažana, Croatia, on July 31, 2010.

Pilchard is a small oily fish, the symbol of Fažana fishermen’s festivals. The Pilchard Festival is the largest and one of the oldest. The flag of the fisherman’s fraternity “St. Andrew”, patron saint of fishermen, flies high. The local restaurants display their gastronomic skill preparing the fish for visitors.

Here’s how the Fažana tourist folks describe the fishing tradition:

In the first records from the Middle Ages Fažana is mentioned as a small fishing town close to Vodnjan, after which the sea passage between land and the Brijuni Islands was named. Fishing was one of the important activities of the locals, which engaged almost entire families. While the men went fishing, women were responsible for cleaning their nets when they returned. The locals are still keen about fishing. Even today when passing along the waterfront by the small family-owned boats in the morning hours you will often have a chance to witness such a memorable sight.

There are many details that illustrate the significance of fishing in Fažana: fisherman’s fraternity “St. Andrew” during Napoleon’s rule, one of the largest fish (pilchard) processing plants in the Croatian Adriatic up to 1952, as many as 47 registered fishing boats in Fažana in 1910, as well as a shipyard for the construction and repair of fishing boats at the beginning of the 20th century.

Oily fish was mostly caught: pilchard, anchovy, mackerel… and sold to the neighboring population, used for the needs of hotels on the Brijuni Islands or the fish processing plant. But, fish from Fažana was exported as well. The regular boat service between Pula and Trieste also included Fažana as its port of call, so lobsters and crabs “grancevole” could be taken from Fažana to be served at banquets in Trieste and Vienna.

Freshly caught, still hot, taken right off the grill, pilchard in Fažana is the fish with a special taste and smell of the Adriatic Sea. Prepared in many different ways, the best reason for chasing it down with a glass of Malvasia or Teran, this fish has its own Academy in Fažana – Small fishing academy “Pilchard” – in the vicinity of Pula and within reach of the Brijuni Islands!

Pilchard festival and Things that fishermen know (August) are fisherman’s festivals where these men of the sea present their traditional skills in various ways. Fishermen display different examples of marine life and needed equipment. They explain to visitors how certain fish is caught, how fishing equipment is handled and used, how fishing nets are mended and fishing needles are wound. So, everyone becomes a fisherman: children, tourists, chance travellers and visitors. The world of fishermen and fishing tradition in Fažana is also reflected in artistic creations. Here, where the wavelets reach the very tables of nearby restaurants along Fažana’s seaside promenade, where the sea keeps up with the times, past and present – this is the site of the distinctive open-air gallery: Pilchard park !

This sculptor’s promenade has been thematically organized by evoking the silvery blue fish in the traditional words used by old fishermen of Fažana. Laštra, frega, ardor, šušana, buriole are the names of sculptures dedicated to the “little provider, modest nurturer” known as pilchard. Both with its heart and offer, the tradition of this fishing-tourist town is turned towards the sea, calling out to skilled local fishermen, children and their parents, tourists and modern Argonauts. It is an invitation to the authentic atmosphere and tales of old fishermen on the luck and skillfulness, on shallows and positions, mercy of wind and waves, through stories echoing the words of our ancestors and challenges of modern times.

For more information about visiting this part of Croatia, go online.

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