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(E) CroatiaFest in Seattle October 10
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  10/6/2004 | Community | Unrated
(E) CroatiaFest in Seattle October 10

Media contact:  Laura McLeod, (206) 297-3791,

For Immediate Release

Kill date:  Sunday, October 10, 2004



Presented by Seattle Center and Festál

Washington State Croatian communities gather to share and

celebrate their culture

What:            CroatiaFest

When:           Sunday, October 10, 2004

Hours:           12:00 noon – 8:00 pm

Where:          Seattle Center – Center House

                     305 Harrison Street, Seattle

Cost:             Free

SEATTLE – Lively dance and compelling exhibits are just a hint of the multi-faceted experience awaiting visitors to the Northwest’s first-ever

  The day-long festival celebrates local Croatian Americans, their communities and their many accomplishments on Sunday, October 10 from 12:00 noon until 8:00 pm at Seattle Center.

While geographically close, this event marks the first time Northwest Croatians have joined together to create an all-encompassing production focused on their history and their homeland. 

“Our ethnic boundaries have changed so many times.  Croatia began as an independent ancient kingdom, came under control of other countries, and now, at last, is again its own country,” says organizer Alma Plancich.  “Planning this event – collaboratively – is an acknowledgement of our ethnic and cultural identity.  We came from the Adriatic Sea to the Pacific Ocean where we assimilated into our respective communities, but this event brings us all together.  It’s also an opportunity to share our culture with the larger community.” 

A day filled with music, song and dance also includes activities, seminars and exhibits, giving visitors to the festival insight into this distinct culture.  A presentation featuring traditional Croatian costumes – now worn primarily for special occasions and performances - emphasizes the beauty of original folk costumes and the people who wear them, and highlights the villages from which they originate.  A Croatian marketplace provides an essence of today’s Croatian culture, from specialty foods and jewelry, to Croatian art and music, and a taste of traditional Croatian coffee.  One of central Europe’s undiscovered jewels, a video tour highlights Croatia’s breathtaking landscapes. 


Visual Art & Exhibits

From Toronto, Canada, Croatian painter, sculptor, printmaker and poet Ante Sardelić exhibits paintings from his “Eternal Homeland” series, a touring tribute to his native land.  Originally from the city of Korčula, Sardelić’s abstract images draw from symbolism and modern Cubist styles – brightly colored, intertwined figurative shapes with symbolic landscapes.  Andrea Mohorovicic, from Zagreb’s Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences, wrote of Sardelić’s work, “…a profound symphony of shapes, words and music.”  The exhibit has traveled to museums and galleries in cities around the world, but this is his first U.S. exhibit.  Sardelić will be available to answer questions and talk about his work. 

            Photo exhibits illustrate the stories of industrious immigrants and contemporary Croatian Americans in the Puget Sound region (see sidebar).  Contributing to the historical exhibit are the mining communities of Cle Elum, Ronald and Roslyn, the fishing communities of Gig Harbor, Tacoma, Everett, Anacortes and Bellingham, and the logging communities of Grays Harbor County.  This exhibit also includes artifacts.  Croats in Washington State number about 40,000.

Film screenings include a recent documentary by two local filmmakers, Paul Dahlke and Adam Bobboni, and Hrvati!, a half-hour award-winning documentary by Jean Wakinshaw (with support from the National Endowment for the Arts and KCTS Public Television), about the Anacortes Croatian community in the 1970s and ‘80s (1:00 – 4:00, Conference Room level).   


            Workshops and seminars are offered throughout the afternoon.  Children can learn some simple, but fun, Croatian dance steps and get their favorite Croatian design or even a butterfly drawn on their face!

Special guest, master musician and maker of instruments, Nick Petrish, originally from Anacortes but now residing in Dubrovnik, Croatia, returns to the Northwest for CroatiaFest.  An authority on Croatian music and dance, he is one of few Americans who hand-makes the traditional Croatian lijerica, a pear-shaped string instrument resembling the Greek lyre that is played with a bow.  Petrish will conduct a seminar highlighting the ancient folk dance called Lindjo from 5:00 – 6:00 p.m.  Originating in small villages north of Dubrovnik to celebrate special occasions, dancers of the Lindjo are traditionally accompanied by the lijerica.

Music & Dance

Performers from around the Northwest include nationally acclaimed Vela Luka Croatian Dance Ensemble and the Ruže Dalmatinke Orchestra (based in Anacortes), Sinovi, Seattle Junior Tamburitzans,Radost Folk Ensemble, Pasko & Damir, and Dave & the Dalmatians, and from Vancouver, BC, Kardinal Stepinac.  Dances often represent regions, traditions and various stages of Croatian history, and are presented with elaborate costumes, lively music and singing.  Native Slavic tradition melds with the outside influences of Spanish, Greek, Italian, Hungarian and Central European folk traditions.  Costuming also reflects these influences -contrasting the red and white flax, wool and silk of colonial styles with bright, bold embroidered colors and woven textures.

A dance party wraps up the day’s festivities beginning at 6:00 p.m. when Sinovi,Pasko & Damir, and the Ruže Dalmatinke Orchestra pick up the pace with foot-tapping music and infectious dancing.  The tamburica (Croatia’s national instrument), accordion and other traditional instruments combine with regional vocal styles – including the open-throat style of interior Croatia and the bel canto style found at the Adriatic coast – for a sound that’s upbeat and unmistakable.  Everyone is invited to kick up their heels and get out on the dance floor!

More Information 

Dr. Frank Brozovich, Honorary Consul of the Republic of Croatia for Washington State, or Alma Plancich, festival organizer, are available to provide more information.  Ms. Plancich immigrated to the United States by way of Italy and Venezuela after World War II.  She is also a member and one of the founders (the other is her sister, Binki) of the Ruže Dalmatinke Orchestra (Ruže Dalmatinke means Dalmatian Roses, a name she was given as a child while singing at a refugee camp in Italy) 

Photos are of Vela Luka Croatian Dance Ensemble and were taken by Jal Schrof.

2004 marks the ninth year of Seattle Center's Festál, a coalition of cultural community festivals designed to preserve and share traditions of individual cultures. Not-for-profit cultural associations, such as CroatiaFest and Seattle Center produce the free family-oriented festivals on an annual basis. Festál welcomes CroatiaFest as part of its ongoing commitment to building a rich and varied community.  For more information on Festál, or call (206) 684-7200.


Did You Know?

·          Dubrovnik archives show the first Croatian emigrants settled in America in 1526; legend puts them here as early as 1498, when shipwrecked Croatian sailors settled in what would become Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

·          Croatian soldiers serving in the 17th century French army were called Royal Cravate because of the fabric they wore around their necks.  Cravate – or neck tie – later entered into everyday vernacular in countless other languages, including Italian (Cravatta), Spanish (Corbata), Irish (Carabhat), English (Cravat) and Ukrainian (Kravatka).   

·          Croatia, in 1776, was the first country to recognize the new republic of the United States.

·          Croatian inventions include the torpedo, the parachute, the MagLite and the ball point pen.

·          Marko Polo – one of the world’s greatest explorers, was from Croatia – the island of Korčula, in fact.

·          Locally, Nalley’s Potato Chips were the brainchild of Marko Narancich, or Marcus Nalley.  Nalley came to the U.S. in 1903 at 13 years old.  He worked in copper mines, then as a cook, and later, a meat packer.  His bagged fried potatoes were initially ridiculed, but while working as a master chef at Tacoma’s Bonneville Hotel, he created Saratoga Chips as a side business.  Demand grew, and the rest is history.  An avid conservationist and philanthropist, the Pierce County Board of Commissioners once awarded him with its “Oustanding Naturalized Citizen” award.

·          In 1915, Henry Suzzallo, of Croatian descent, was named President of the University of Washington.  Suzzallo Library was later named for him. 



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  • Comment #1 (Posted by Shirley Dalton)

    My grandparents were croatian. My Dad and Grandfather worked in the mines in Ronald Wa 1 mile from Roslyn. Both uncles John Plesha and Edward Norris did also. My Grandfather name John Plesha and my dad Jacob McDonald. married to Mary Plesha. Uncle married Mary Zauher. We grew up in the croatian family traditions and also the Italian, as that what was in the two towns of Roslyn and Ronald (Croata & Italian)Enjoyed the articles listed here keep it up.
    Thank you
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