1st celebration of Yarra Ranges Old Vine Cultural Festival
The special guest artists from Slovenia were a young Ensemble - Vesele Stajerke - Happy Girls from Stajerska.
The ensemble Vesele Stajerke was renowned for its joyful and exuberant performances. From the eastern region of Slovenia called “Stajerska”, the name translated as, The Happy Girls from Stajerska.
The region is famous for the warmth, musicality and hospitality of its people. Vesele Stajerke personified this spirit and “joie de vivre”. Their repertoire included Slovenian folk songs as well as contemporary popular songs.The group consists of four members:
Formed in 1994, the group toured: Austria, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Canada, Seychelle Islands and the United States.
Happy Girls from Stajerska
Vesele Stajerke were invited specially for the celebration of the Old Vine Festival of the Shire of Yarra Ranges in the eastern area of outer Melbourne, Victoria. The festival came about from the planting of the graft of the 400 year old vine, from Lent, in Maribor, capital of the Stajerska region. Stajerska is famed as a wine-growing area, produces the highest quality wines and has a long viticulture tradition reaching beyond Roman times.
The Mayor of Maribor, Boris Sovic, gifted a graft of the vine to the Shire of Yarra Ranges, in Victoria in 1999. After two years of required quarantine in Australia, the graft was planted at McWilliams Lilydale Vineyards on 23 September 2001 by Councillor Di Moore of the Shire of Yarra Ranges. This established the connection between the region of Stajerska, the association of winegrowers of the Yarra Valley and the Shire of the Yarra Ranges. The facilitator and the initiator of the Old Vine Project, Vinko Rizmal, with the vital support of Australian and Slovenian participating organizations and individuals, made the festival into an important local community event; as well as of intercultural exchange, linking the two wine-growing regions - Stajerska and Victoria.
The 2002 Yarra Ranges Old Vine Festival turned into a national promotional tour for the Yarra Ranges region. The Ensemble covered over 4400 km, performed 19 times to well over 4000 people. Happy girls performed in primary and High Schools in Adelaide and Melbourne to over 1300 pupils. The final performance was a great celebration at McWilliams Lilydale Vinery in Seville on 22nd September 2002 with over 600 guests attending.
It all started with planting a small graft of Velvety Black grapevine on the embankment of river Drava in Central Europe some 400 years ago.
Vinko Rizmal Projects Coordinator
SAATCE - Slovenian Australian Agency for Trading and Cultural Exchange