"Satul Verde" Association
FILE – ‘Festivals for Informal Learning in Europe’

The  FILE – ‘Festivals for Informal Learning in Europe’ project brings together rural communities from Scotland, Romania and Slovenia. The 3 organisations involved in the project are: ARCH –Scotland, “Satul verde” – Romania and Društvo za ohranitev naravne in kulturne dediščine Selenca  - Slovenia.

The project revolves around local festivals and celebrations that have elements of common interest and would benefit from a wider international participation and audience. By developing the cultural assets of festivals we hope to bring about informal learning, share celebrations and promote the positive aspects of village life. This includes traditional skills and local products that can attract tourists, increase trade and provide real jobs in the longer term.

A festival is a great opportunity to see local traditions, folklore, crafts, dances, costumes; hear songs and stories and try out local food and drink specialities. Most festivals bring people together in a joyous and relaxed way. A festival also has a social function, where people meet, talk, dance & eat together, connecting with each other while celebrating “localness”. The international aspect also allows for an exchange of ideas between communities from different parts of Europe. In FILE, we will learn from each other how to make the best use of our cultural assets – including local people but also the cultural landscape in which they live.  The outcome and legacy will provide ideas and opportunities for young & old people alike.

We will show each other how tradition is kept alive through crafts, folklore & entertainments but also show that innovation and contemporization can help to retain the best from the past but add something new and exciting – helping to keep communities working together into the future.

The project runs over a 2 year period and it is funded by the European Union through the Lifelong Learning Programme.

The festivals/events we took part in 2015

Slovenia – May Day Celebrations

The second FILE action took place from 26th April to 2nd May and it was dedicated to honey production and Mayday celebrations in Slovenia. First project day was the Bumblebee walk around village of Ivanci. 27th of April is national holiday in Slovenia so a lot of of local people joined as they were off work for the day. First stop along the way was at St. John’s the Baptist chapel in Ivanci, built in 1991/2 with the old one being torn down days before Slovenian independence in June 1991. Interesting albeit violent paintings of St. John’s decapitation with Salome holding his head on the plate, pregnant virgin Mary and Joseph visiting Elizabeth and Zaccharia and Christ’s baptism by St.John the baptist are themes that Štefan Hauko explored in his masterpiece. A couple of steps out and we were in the fields and meadows progressing towards Stanko Čiček’s beehives. Participants learnt about the differences between systems of beekeeping in Slovenia and Scotland as well as different sources of honey and timeframes for the harvest. Next day at Mr. Klement in Moravske Toplice a pouring and centrifugation of honey was presented. During our Goričko tour at cheesemaker Zeleni raj in Ratkovci participants were given a description of  the cheesemaking process and at nearby licitar Celec a taste of honey cakes. Next project day was exploring Mura river and its surroundings. Floating mill in Ižakovci Island of love, apitherapist beekeeper Šemen in Melinci and another floating boat in Gornja bistrica where we crossed over to Štajerska. In  the afternoon all 3 groups gathered to bake cakes of their own country which were then used on May day celebration in Ivanci on the following day. Before preparing and raising the maypole on April 30th, participants were able to try out their straw weaving skills in Lipovci at kmetija Smodiš straw weavers . A visit to Lendava’s castle museum was also part of the programme. Another visit to Bukovnica lake and Nemec farm completed the activities for second action in Ivanci.

Romania – Hay making festival, Gîrbovița

In 2015 the FILE action in Romania (30th June- 7th July) focused on traditional hay making and herbs of the hay meadow. Local people from the village of Gîrbovița showed FILE participants from Slovenia and the UK how to make hay in a traditional way. This involved cutting grass with  scythes & turning it with  forks & rakes. Participants were shown how to use the tools and everybody had a go at cutting & turning grass. The importance of cutting the grass after the flowering season was explained.

We had a walk through hay meadows around the village to identify plants & their uses and to compare the flora of Romanian haymeadows to that in Slovenia & the UK.  A local herbalist from the village accompanied the group on the walk and initiated discussions about plants, their uses and local folklore and celebrations associated with some plants. The plants we identified in our walk  were put together in a brochure  – “Herbs of the Romanian haymeadows”, which is available in English, Romanian and Slovenian.

We saw that village people have great knowledge of plants and their uses, plants are collected and dried for teas and some of them are sold in the local market. The group also visited several shops selling  herbal tinctures, creams & teas. This is all part of a rich  culture & tradition that still has valuable knowledge as regards local flora.

Local people from Gîrbovița cooked food, made bread, pies & cakes and shared them with the guests.

We had a day visit to Rimet, where participants from Slovenia and the UK cooked a traditional meal and shared it with local people. The Slovenian participants performed a traditional dance from their village, Ivanci.

As part of the programme, the group visited an animal market in Teiuș, the ASTRA village museum in Sibiu and the Vauban fortress in Alba Iulia.

Scotland ( 23rd -30th July 2015) – Comrie Fortnight Festival

The programme centred on the Comrie Fortnight Festival,  a 2 week celebration of village life. There are new activities every day, from bus trips to the Trossachs to the ‘Pram Derby’.  The festival is well known through Scotland and abroad. It draws in a large number of visitors, some for just a day and some for the full 2 weeks.  It gives a huge economic boost to local businesses, filling the hotels, Bed and Breakfasts and ensuring that all of the shops and restaurants are in full swing. Economically it is a very important event in the local calendar.  Our programme set out to reflect the impact that the festival could have on local businesses, crafts people, farmers and the group stayed in Combruith, hostel accommodation run by a local sustainable enterprise, Comrie Croft.  We took part in many of the village festival  activities, The Car Boot sale which was fascinating to our visitors- an ideal way to get rid of unwanted things and gain a little money, The Garden Trail – a chance to look in your neighbours back garden. The beer festival and the outdoor service at Tullichettle were also well attended.   We visited Braco Show run by the Agricultural Society; their aim is to promote agriculture and the countryside to the community. There is an exhibition of farm machinery and animals.  Local farmers compete to win prizes for their sheep, horses and cattle.  One exhibitor invited our group to visit his farm and his prize-winning herd of Simmental cattle.  He shared a barbeque with us and showed us around his cattle sheds.

On the Saturday we visited the Lochearnhead Highland Games, Traditional Scottish games with tossing the caber, piping and highland dancing competitions.  In the planning activities for this action we invited our Scottish participants to take part with the incoming groups.  Di McNab invited the group for an evening in her home, we took food and wine to share.  Zandra Black and her partner played Scottish country dance music on their accordions and it developed into a ceilidh.  Felicity Martin made a slideshow and presentation about Comrie and its surroundings. Derek Robertson took the group for a fungus forage.  We finished our second action at an open evening at Auchingarrich Wildlife Park. Once a farm, Auchingarrich have diversified to a large café and children’s adventure park and a wildlife park which exhibits native species both wild and domesticated.

This final action of the FILE project was influenced greatly by the evaluation and dissemination from the previous activities.


The festivals/events we took part in 2014

Romania -Rîmeț village festival

The first action of the FILE project took place in Romania in the beginning of July and it evolved around the Rîmeț village days. This is an event that takes place once a year in the village of Rîmeț,Trascău Mountains, Alba county. This year the event also hosted the “Culture for culture” contest with 7 communes competing to demonstrate who has the best folk dancers & singers, food, crafts, textiles, traditional costumes.

Local people worked side by side with Scottish & Slovenian participants to set up the place of the event. They erected tents and built an eco toilet.

On the day of the event, Tarcău plateau filled with people from Rîmeț & surrounding areas, but also from Aiud ,Teiuș & Alba Iulia.

There was a stage for the folklore groups to perform and each commune had its own tent where they exhibited hand made carpets, towels, traditional costumes, pottery. There were also demonstrations on loom weaving, basket making & cooking (game stew). A forge was installed and we saw how a horse was shod. Each tent had a table in front to show traditional village food: home made pies, bread, cakes, sausages. We tasted them all!

The festival exemplified a wide range of rural crafts, from cookery to hat making.

The group also visited the village museum in Brădești that has a collection of old tools, household items & textiles & traditional costumes from the area.

The programme included a cultural visit to the Vauban fortress in Alba Iulia and the Village Museum in Sibiu.

At the end of the programme we had  a feedback session & discussions with all participants.


Many many thanks for all the arrangements you made, which allowed us to experience the truly beautiful area around Rimet, and,of course, the festival.  We certainly packed in a great deal in our short stay.  The visits to Sibiu and Alba Iulia were an added bonus and helped us understand a little of the history of the area.

I left Romania with very positive feelings of your country and have already told friends that it is a very beautiful part of the world.” Di McNab, Scotland


“I had a wonderful time in Romania! I hope I was able to make a worthwhile contribution to your project. I’ve taken some super photos but they still can’t convey how beautiful the countryside is without the sounds and smells!

It is obvious that the people are extremely proud of their culture and that they want to keep it alive through the festivals”. Patricia Gardner, Scotland

“Rimet is a truly special place and the people there were very welcoming”. Bob Turner, Scotland

Slovenia- Vegetable Days & Pumpkin Festival

The programme in Slovenia focused on pumpkins and the wine culture (which are the main activities in the area) and it culminated with the Vegetable Farmers’ Day that was celebrated in the village of Ivanci.

The programme included a field tour of the village to see their irrigation system and the fields cultivated mainly with pumpkins and corn.  There was a visit to a local farm belonging to Monika Horvat & family. They grow red peppers and tomatos in politunnels but also pumpkins for oil.

In the village of Križevci  we visited a small pumpkin press and saw how pumpkin oil is made using the “ hot pressing” method.

The village of Gančani  is renowed for barrel making and we saw how they are made.There were visits to vineyards and wine cellars around Bogojina.  The village of Filovci  houses an ethnographic museum and  participants had a go at making a clay pot. In Bukovnika we visited a small bull farm.

During these visits participants experienced Slovenian rural life & crafts and were able to compare these with those from their local areas.

On the Vegetable Farmers’ Day we were joined by local people from Ivanci & surroundings to celebrate the farmers & harvest . Each partner cooked a traditional meal. The Romanian team cooked a huge pot of beans with pork sausages.  In the evening there was a cultural programme with Slovenian music, dance and a theatre play. We saw how the community works together to organize a local event that could turn into a tourist attraction.

The programme included a cultural visit to Murska Sobota, the Transmuranian capital and to the Round church in Selo village.

Scotland- Apple Day & Drovers Tryst

The last action of 2014 took place in Comrie, Scotland and it had apples as a main theme. In the first day we went around Comrie and at Cultybraggan Camp to pick apples.


The Romanian team had an expert on pruning with them and we pruned some apple trees around the village. We visited Drummond Castle Gardens where we had a look at various fruit trees and also their flower & vegetable garden.  The tour of the garden was led by the former gardener of the castle- he had been a gardener there for more than 30 years.


Comrie Croft (http://www.comriecroft.com ) showed us an example of how the community works together. This community- led place offers various types of accommodation for tourists, volunteers, events. We made cakes and took part in the Thursday Club lunch organized by & for the people in the village as a way to socialise & keep up with the news.  Derek Robertson took us on a tour of a fish farm to hear about how fish is farmed and sold all over the world. On Saturday we visited Crieff market where local people sell a wide range of home made products, from jams, hams, smoked fish and syrups to jewelry and soaps. In the afternoon we went to Cultybraggan Camp to help with preparations for the Apple Day.

On Sunday 12thOctober people of Comrie & surroundings celebrated the Apple day at Cultybraggan Camp. We made apple juice together with the locals & tasted local home made apple products. The day ended with a Harvest service in Glen Artney Church.

(http://www.gateway-to-the-scottish-highlands.com/Glen-Artney.html )

In both Slovenia and Scotland we saw many examples of how people use their cultural & natural assets to attract visitors, promote the area & bring income to it. We came back with many ideas that we would like to apply in our areas.

Comments are closed.