Annual Gypsy festival livens Serbian town

The small town of Guca becomes the site of a spirited gypsy music festival for a week every year.

Nathalie Rothschild
A musician offered a blast of brass at a festival in Guca, Serbia, last month.

• A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.

For one week every summer, a wild brass-band festival transforms the normally sleepy town of Guca in central Serbia into a scene of joyous mayhem. Officially known as “Dragacevski Sabor Trubaca,” the festival has gained a reputation as Europe’s craziest party.

Even the most seasoned Western festivalgoer will be positively overwhelmed by the 24-hour street parties, shrieking trumpets, gyrating belly dancers, and piles of meat served up at this passionate celebration of the Romany Gypsy brass-band tradition.

The Guca festival, initiated 50 years ago, was originally a modest affair. It was created with the aim of keeping the local brass-orchestra tradition alive at a time when former Yugoslavia was undergoing modernization. The annual festival and competition, with recognitions for a “best orchestra” and a “golden trumpet,” now attracts hundreds of thousands of people.

Local musician Dejan Krsmanovic says the Guca festival is “the only big celebration we have around here, and as it has become more popular with foreigners it’s a good opportunity for locals, most of whom have never been abroad, to meet outsiders.”

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