The first Porto etno festival of food and music, organised by the City of Rijeka and RIJEKA 2020 and co-organised with the Manufaktura Interdisciplinary Collective, was held on Saturday, September 9 in the T-Object of the Benčić complex.

The festival came to be as a combination of the traditional Ethno Summit – Days of National Minorities and the recently started Bakanalije – Grandma ain’t from around here programme. The enormous amount of visitors significantly surpassed all organisational expectations.

The festival’s attractive programme consisted of the gastronomical part – presenting the cuisines of national minorities and friendship associations based in Rijeka and Primorje-Gorski Kotar county, workshops for kids, performance programmes, as well as performances by world music musicians.

Porto etno was opened by Emina Višnić, CEO of RIJEKA 2020 LLC, Petar Mamula, Primorje-Gorski Kotar County deputy prefect, and Nikola Ivaniš, City of Rijeka deputy mayor.

Emina Višnić touched upon the location of the festival, the interior of the yet unfinished T-Object of the Benčić complex where the festival was moved because of forecasted rain. “Our buildings have not been completed yet, but I am very pleased to see such a huge amount of people at a new event in Rijeka that carries on the 20-year tradition of the Ethno Summit. This is what the European Capital of Culture is all about, not waiting for 2020 when the buildings and programmes will be fully prepared and operation. We want to take this slowly, as we did here, with numerous minority communities, associations, city government and many individuals who are involved in the first Porto etno festival of food and music.”

Petar Mamula greeted everyone “on behalf of one of the culprits for implementing the phenomenal Rijeka ECOC project. I am especially pleased to greet you all at an event that fully emphasises our motto – The Port of Diversity – selected to present Rijeka as the European Capital of Culture. This is an opportunity to show how national minorities present in our region are capable of integrating their cultures into local development and the development of city and county projects.”

Nikola Ivaniš greeted everyone on behalf of Vojko Obersnel, the Mayor of Rijeka, Marko Filipović, the other deputy mayor, and himself by saying that all three of them, as the heads of the city executive government, strongly support projects such as Proto etno and the concepts of Rijeka as a Port of Diversity and Rijeka for all, mottos that will be used for various activities until 2020. “The European Capital of Culture is a once in a lifetime opportunity, a project that is strongly binding for the city and all citizens. It is an opportunity to do something for our city, to evaluate our rich industrial heritage and then redesign it to serve a modern 21st century society. That is why this is so important.”

The audience also heard from Zoran Majstorović, the festival’s artistic director, who presented the music programme, the Portno Etno orchestra, founded for this specific event and comprised of regional ethno jazz musicians, which performed independently throughout the evening, as well as accompanied by Slovenian musician Nika Solce and Serbian pianist Vasil Hadžimanov. Other musical guests included the Arakne Group from Italy and the Karandila Gypsy Brass Orchestra from Bulgaria that closed the festival.

Porto etno would not have been possible without the support of numerous national minority and friendship associations that put in an enormous amount of effort to make the festival as grand as it was. They are: “Prosvjeta” Serbian Cultural Society Rijeka, Islamic community Council of Women, Hungarian Democratic Community, “Rušnjak” Primorje-Gorski Kotar County Rusyn and Ukrainian Culture and Education Society, Primorje-Gorski Kotar Albanian Community, Slovak Cultural Centre Rijeka, Czech Beseda Rijeka, Jewish Community of Rijeka, “Ilinden” Macedonian Culture Society, National Society of Montenegro Rijeka, Russian House Rijeka, Italian Community of Rijeka, Expats Rijeka Society.

The programme was powered by the City of Rijeka, Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia, Rijeka 2020 – ECOC, Manufaktura Interdisciplinary Collective, Povdiv ECOC 2019, Italian embassy, KPD Bazovica, Student Cultural Centre of the University of Rijeka, Student Council of the University of Rijeka, Plodine, GP Krk, Metis, Carlsberg Croatia, “Prosvjeta” Serbian Cultural Society, and media partners Soundset Trsat and Totalni FM.