Shout Out – Perunfest

I decided to record this episode after spending most of the weekend at Perunfest. I hope to spread the word about this festival of fantasy, fairy tales, and forgotten folk believes. Usually, this festival takes place in the last days of May/first days of June. This year, that wasn’t possible due to the Covid pandemic. I know this reason is self-understanding at the moment, but I am emphasizing this because I like to imagine someone listening to this episode a few years from now without a single clue why would anyone postpone a festival unless it has something to do with the weather 🙂

The weather forecast for the Perunfest weekend wasn’t perfect either. But I guess the organizers decided to risk it since the main topic was creatures from the local folklore connected to – thunderstorms. You might say it was a good test of whether or not the festival would please them.

There was another difference in this year’s festival. It has been going on for a few years now, but the earthquakes that happened last year, damaged the original location, and that’s the old castle of Lukavec. That is why the organizers, the museum of Turopolje region, decided to use another location they’re in charge of. For the first time, the festival took place in the park around a 200-years-old wooden manor in Donja Lomnica. Both the old location and the new location of the festival are rather close to Zagreb – 15 minutes by car from where I live. The biggest city in the Turopolje region is Velika Gorica. 

Magical setting of Perunfest

Both locations are magical, both the Lukavec castle and the manor. While many people worried about how an old wooden house could compete with a castle, most ended up thrilled by the new setting and loved the festival even better than before. Count me in! A castle is a castle, and fairytales go well with castles. But wooden construction is so authentic and deeply rooted in the region of Turopolje. The new setting made all the featured art and performances even more believable. 

So, what’s the festival about? It’s one of the most artistic and creative festivals in the country. It gathers so many artists, craftsmen, and performers who, through their shows, revive the myths of old. The name of the festival derives from the word Perun. That’s the ancient Slavic thunder god. Stories related to Perun bear some similarities to the Norse Thor or Greek Zeus. 

Kristina iza 7 gora, a storyteller from Serbia with Zdenko Bašić, the mastermind behind Perunfest

This year’s main topic was mythical creatures of the region called moguts. Zdenko Bašić, a famous Croatian artist and the Museum of Turopolje region have joined forces in several projects, including publishing a lavish book about mogut creatures. Together, they have been organizing this festival, too, for several years now.

I plan to dedicate one of the future episodes to the history of the wooden manor that hosted this event, with some bits and peculiarities of the whole Turopolje region, including the legend of moguts, so stay tuned for more info about this mysterious guardian shapeshifter. Mysterious guardian shapeshifter would be the quickest possible description, although it’s not completely accurate. 

A giant mogut made of straw

As I mentioned, moguts are connected with thunderstorms. They are sometimes called the children of Perun. Remember, the god of thunder? The forecast for this weekend was terrible, especially for Sunday. But when you honor the moguts, you don’t need to worry about the weather forecast, I guess. The clear skies are guaranteed. The organizers were bold enough not to cancel despite the awful forecast. And they were awarded the perfect weather – not too hot, no clouds at sight. It truly felt as if the moguts were enchanted by the performances and decided to stay low and simply enjoy the weekend. As soon as the festival approached its end, late on Sunday evening, it started pouring rain. Who knows, maybe the moguts were there. How would we even know? It was a unique occasion for them to come closer to us, and we wouldn’t even notice because there were so many people in various costumes inspired by creatures from local lore. 

The program started on Saturday and Sunday at 4 pm. There were incredible storytellers, concerts, plays, quests, acrobatic shows… There was a themed fair with unique souvenirs, such as calligraphic mementos by the dedicated Darja of Kalidariart, or jewelry made out of bogwood – a thousand-year-old oak wood. That couldn’t be more native to the region as it used to be known for its vast oak tree forests. 

Art by Zdenko Bašić

There were several exhibitions, too. The old, incredibly preserved mansion, was open for visits. The whole thing looked otherwordly after dark, with an added touch of fairy dust thanks to the exhibition of the dolls by Jasmina i lutkice. The main exhibit was one of Zdenko Bašić’s art

Creative workshops, treasure hunts, reenactments…. all following the same theme, with so much going on, sometimes even simultaneously on various spots in each corner of the property… Hours felt like minutes, and it was plain magic. 

I’ve been participating in the program as one of the performers ever since the festival took place for the first time. On prior occasions, I prepared some storytelling lectures based on lore. This year, I prepared a gamified exploration of the garden around the manor. I presented myself as the spirit of the house that’s in charge of keeping the memories of the place safe. When I tried to show the participants the book of memories, I discovered it was empty! We then set off to search for the clues. Along our way, we found old photos, shared the stories behind them, and thus collected the memories back. The last clue showed us where a mogut hid. It was a combination of history, legends, and plain fun. So many families with children joined! That made the whole experience playful and fun. 

When I was preparing the quest, I got so fascinated with the history of the manor and I can’t wait to share it on another episode in the future. But, first things first. I already prepared a few episodes that follow, so this one probably won’t be live before October. 

If you happen to find yourself in Croatia around the time of Perunfest, give it a go and visit it. It is a world-class fantasy festival indeed. Visit for more info and to check out the names of the artists, performers, and exhibitors if you wish to look them up. This shout-out episode doesn’t just go to the festival but to every single one who participated in it!

This episode interfered a bit with the announced schedule. The episode that was supposed to come out today, the one about Rogoznica, will be live tomorrow. The Summer officially ends tomorrow evening, 22 September, around 8 pm. Let’s prolong it a bit tomorrow with the episode that calls to the seaside, to the town of Rogoznica.

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