Slovenia, a small, mountainous country in the middle of Europe, proved to be full of hidden gems as shown by the Slovenija pavilion from Aug. 4 to Aug. 10.
The pavilion, located within the hallways and gymnasium of Daniel McIntyre High School, featured cultural displays of traditional dress, poster boards of information about the eight different regions of Slovenia, and tables of food and pastries.
Slovenia borders Italy, Austria, Croatia, and Hungary, and each of those countries have influenced some of the Slovenian culture.
"For example, in Austria, you have the polka, which is also influenced into Slovenia," choreographer Kristina Majowski said.
"There’s only two-million people in Slovenia. You can put them in Lake Winnipeg," longtime volunteer Mary Sobocan laughed.
Because the population of Slovenia is sparse, it proves to be a challenge for Sobocan to recruit volunteers due to the low number of Slovenian people in Winnipeg.
"We only have about 120 (Slovenian) families in our community," Sobocan said.
"And I’ll know because we are such a small community. We actually could say that we’re like a family."
However, the small population hasn’t stopped this pavilion from sharing its culture.
Sobocan even shared a tale about a strange creature that dwells in a Slovenian cave called a human fish, also known as an olm. It’s called a human fish because its skin resembles human skin.
"It can live up to 100 years. It’s blind, and when it’s in the water, it breathes through its gills. When it’s out of the water, it breathes through its lungs," Sobocan explained.
Slovenia is also known for its crystal, especially crystal made from the town of Rogaška Slatina.
"Donald Trump has a line of crystal from Rogaška," Sobocan said about the businessman’s company, Steklarna Rogaška.
The performances were carried out by three different dance groups: Zvoncek (young children), Rozmarin (preteens up to age 16), and Triglav (adults). Majowski choreographed routines for Rozmarin and Triglav.
"Slovenian dance is predominantly done in two ways — in pairs and in a group formation," Majowski explained.
Girls and women wore white, long-sleeved blouses with full-length colourful skirts that swung lightly in the air while they danced with boys and men who wore white button-up shirts with black trousers and vests.
"The footwork really depends from region to region," Majowski said. "You have Croatia, which influences Slovenia with group dancing. And the movements are very fast."
For a full list of all pavilions, visit folklorama.ca