How to experience the true spirit of Srijem and Slavonia in one place in twelve days - Šokačko village in Županja

We have been border guards for a long time, we guarded the border on the Sava,
They guarded it from the old porches, and defended the land from the Turks,
They guarded it for hundreds of years, defended it bravely from foreigners,
Grandfathers also shed their blood to defend our beloved homeland.

Šokačko village in the county

This song, which many people think is originally a folk song, was written by a folk poet Đuka Galović who lived in Cvelferija, in Drenovci, and was born a hundred years ago in the nearby Županja. Those few verses represent the quintessence of the Posavina, Slavonia-Srijema border mentality and historical experience that gave birth to such a folk custom as carnival riding.

///We take you to Cvelferija: Authentic, original, unspoiled by tourists...

Carnival riding is an integral part of the Šokačko sijelo event, which is being held this year for the 57th time in Županja, and for a full 12 days, from February 2 to 13. And the theme of this year's Šokac village is the domestic tradition of horse breeding. The slogan "Oj dorati, moje suvo zlato" was written on the stage of the county cinema, and the verses of Đuka Galović were recited by the horse breeder Vinko Filipović. Đuka's granddaughter was also the co-host of the opening ceremony of Šokački sijelo Raina Raguz.

Šokačko village in the county
Šokačko village in Županja in 2024.

During our three-day stay in Županja, we also had the opportunity to ride in a shock taxi - a horse-drawn carriage, attend the shoeing of horses in the yard of Adam Svirčević's house, and the grand finale of our three-day stay in Županja was the carnival riding that took place on Sunday. We met the riders in the center of the city, and then continued with them to the station in front of the hall Crystal. There they were greeted by cheering fellow residents and tourists, as well as a real Slavonian gastronomic abundance - buns, čvarci, kulen, kulen's seka, bacon, schvargl and, of course, brandy.

Šokačko village in the county

And now a few words about who the old border guards were, as well as a clarification that the barn does not necessarily have to be just a room for storing corn. County was once, until its abolition in 1881, part of the Slavonic military border - Slawonische graenitz, and the Slavonian military border is an integral part of the Habsburg Military Border - Militãrgrenze which stretched from the Adriatic to the Carpathians, and this Slavonic part was also its central part; to the west of it was the Croatian military border, and to the east was the Banat military border.

Slavonian military border, border guards of Baba's beams

Its primary purpose was defense against the Turks, and as the Ottoman danger subsided over time, the people of Krajina fought more and more often in all the wars of the great Habsburg Monarchy, which was the largest country in Europe after the Russian Empire. In time Military borders border guards of that time rode from station to station in formal uniforms, and were greeted with food and drink at the stations.

Šokačko village in the county

Those stations were called conservatories, and one small garden was located every kilometer and a half. With modernization and mechanization, which almost led to the disappearance of horses, this custom almost disappeared, but fortunately it was successfully revitalized in the seventies of the last century, and the county horse breeding association "Stari graničar" celebrates 30 years of work this year. On the same day, carnival riding was held in five places throughout Slavonia, but it should be noted that it is of county origin; i.e. Županja is the cradle of that custom.

mario jukić and slavonska šljivovica

The only border farm preserved to this day is located in Županja, and today it is located there city ​​museum Stjepan Gruber through which we were guided by museum advisor Janja Juzbašić, also the author of the book Slavonic gold embroidery, and director Hrvoje Tkalac. With its five departments (archaeological, historical, cultural-historical, ethnological, artistic, natural history), it provides an insight into life in the area of ​​Županja and its surroundings from the earliest to modern times, which began in Županja at the end of the 19th century, when an English company came to the place The oak extract company ltd from Sutton near London and opens a tannin factory attracted by the proximity of the Spačva complex of oak forests.

Šokačko village in the county
Šokačko village in Županja in 2024.

For their accommodation, the English rented a border cottage, which now houses the city museum, and that is the main reason why it has been preserved to this day. One of the newly arrived Englishmen, the director of the tannin factory, Fred Hepburn, will marry a local girl, Katarina Horvatović, and she will take the nickname shock lady. They met at the post office in Valpovo, where Katarina worked while living with her aunt, while Fred stayed on business in neighboring Belišće, where the industrialist SH Gutmann also had a tannin factory, and they got married in 1902.

Holiday house Šokačka Lady
Holiday house Šokačka Lady

Kao hommage Katarina Hepburn exists in the County House for rest which is called Šokačka Lady, and some pieces of furniture were once owned by Katarina. The house is over a hundred years old, and architecturally speaking, it is a hybrid of Šokak and "Swabian" construction. It consists of a kitchen, bathroom, dining room and three rooms, and a porch connects the living space with the commercial space. Today it is owned by Marko Maroševac, who also has his own horses and proudly participates in carnival riding.

///Shipping is back in fashion: Idyll for urban travelers along the Spačvan forest

Šokačko village in the county
Living history art & cooking show

Immediately after arriving in Šokačka Lady, you are enveloped in a fine patina of past, long-gone times, and the real step into the time machine was the living history art & cooking show, when women from Županja and neighboring villages, dressed in national costumes, made traditional sweets in front of us - carnival donuts , cinnamon rolls, goitane and salenjaka, and painted zucchini. Speaking of folk costumes, a competition was held in Šokački sijelo Shocking flower – selection of the most beautiful girl in national costume. The winner was Antonija - Tonka Oršolić from Županja, who for this occasion wore a shock costume from Baranjski Petrovo Selo, which is located in the Pridrava part of Baranja.

Šokačko village in the county
Šokački cvit – Šokački village in Županja in 2024.

Just like the river Sava, next to which Županja is located, the rivers Drava and Danube are important determinants of the world of shock, as the lyrics of a song say: "Between the Sava, the Danube and the Drava, nowhere near a border, our Šokci and Šokice lived from ancient times..." And that song was one of a series of songs that echoed in the county hall of Ivan, where the afterparty of the official part of Šokački sijelo was held on Friday and Saturday, and the performance was especially impressive Sinđir PPK – the first singing cavalry led by the already mentioned horse farrier Adam Svirčević. In addition to the song itself, there were, of course, a lot of shock cars, and the traditionally most popular Kukunješće was not missing either.

agrotourism of Juzbasic County
Agrotourism Juzbasic

The stay in Županja was also an opportunity to visit interesting places, unrelated to Šokačko sijelo itself, such as the Pannonicum tea and spice shop, the First House of Honey, the Štagalj buffet or the Juzbašić distillery in nearby Bošnjaci.

///Zupanja: Five attractions of the city along the Sava

Buffet Štagalj county
Buffet Štagalj

Agrotourism Juzbasic, that is, Matkova Pecara produces plum, quince, and William pear brandy, as well as Višnjevac, Gunjevac, and Orahovac liqueurs. Buffet Štagalj is located in the center of the city, it is a new facility built in the place where the Štagalj restaurant used to be. It is owned by the Kružljak family and Štagalj in the county is a confirmation that you can eat excellent fish stew along the Sava, and not only along the Drava and Danube, but what makes them stand out and what can only be eaten at their place is carp stew, i.e. from its roe, jelly and liver.

the first house of the county honey
The first house of honey

The first house of honey is owned by Krešimir Čolić and as he proudly points out, they offer only natural honey, and not only honey but also cream honeys, royal jelly, propolis and flower powder. From them you can get, for example, ivy honey or rapeseed honey, as well as honey mixtures such as immuno honey, broncho honey, honey with ginger, honey with aronia, chocolate honey with hazelnuts, honey with hemp, honey with cinnamon, honey with turmeric. , etc.

pannonicum of the county
Pannonicum

In the same street in Županja, at the address Vinkovačka 117, there is also a tea and spice shop Pannonicum. Its owner (as well as OPG of the same name) is Darko Starinec, who has been working professionally since 2021, and for years before that he planted and processed medicinal plants for personal and family needs. In addition to classic, single teas they offer a whole bunch of tea blends with interesting names such as men's health, lemon beat, pardon me sir... There are also many spices and spice blends such as fisherman's partner for fish, wonder - worker for cooking and baking, fodder dust for chops, conductor for barbecue, allrounder for imperial meat, chicken express for chicken wings, etc.

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