Pust begins in Ptuj this weekend, Saturday, 15 February 2020, with the first parade of characters like the famed Kurenti and many other colourful, amusing, and sinister characters. And on the same day, in the same space, is a complementary event that makes Ptuj the place to be if you’re looking for a well-rounded ethnographic experience and the chance to rub your own well-rounded belly, full of cultural heritage and charitable endeavour.
This is the Obarjada stew festival, organised for some 15 years by the local Lions Club, an event that sees around 5,000 people get into the carnival spirit and fortify themselves with food and drink, working with the Kurenti to help drive winter from the land. And while this year there’s not much need for that, there’s still a good case to be made for an early start to a party at this time of year.
The basic idea is this: there’s a competition in which teams compete to see who can make the most delicious stew out of a list of set ingredients – vegetables, chicken and spices – with the dishes then judged and a winner announced. But the day is much more than that. There’s food to sample, of course, and not just stew, with plenty of local delicacies along with wine and homemade spirits. You will not go hungry.
One thing to look out for is the roast potatoes, this year cooked by a team from Bukovci. All the money raised from the potatoes and stew competition will be collected by the Lions Club and given to disadvantaged families and individuals. So go along, eat some potatoes, and put some change or something quieter in any collecting bucket or other receptacle that has the appropriate signage.
Beyond food and drink there’ll be music and dancing, and the general liveliness that ensues when these four appear together in public, with people in costumes and masks acting as a force multiplier in this context.
If you want to go along and see what’s happening, and spend time in the oldest Slovenian city, then the Obarjada stew festival will start at 09:00 in the courtyard of the Minorit Monastery (more specifically, Minoritski samostan sv. Petra in Pavla, Minoritski trg 1), just in time for late breakfast, and is scheduled to last until 14:00.