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Ipeľské Predmostie
Failed rice experiment resulted in unique wetland

COMMUNIST farmers tried to grow rice close to the village of Ipeľské Predmostie in eastern Slovakia between 1952 and 1953. The experiment failed, but turned the site into a wetland. The former paddy fields cover more than 55 hectares and environmentalists are now looking for a way to preserve them.
The Ryžovisko (Paddy Fields) nature reserve in the Poiplie region was inscribed onto the international list of wetlands in 1998.
"Along with rain forests, wetlands are among the most endangered ecosystems," Peter Kúšik from the District Environmental Office in Veľký Krtíš told the Sme daily. "Thus the state nature preserve is working on a programme to care for this area."
During the rice experiment, Alexander Czibulya was working as a private farmer. He had fields close to the paddy fields and he watched the unusual communist experiment closely. Many people made fun of it.
"These were unhappy Stalinist years, when some enthusiasts thought that we could manage everything ourselves," said Czibulya. "Even grow rice, because we were self-sufficient and didn't need anybody."
They started work on the project close to the Ipeľ River. They raised an embankment around the whole area and started planting the rice.
"They launched the project without knowing basic facts," said Czibulya. "For example, they did not know how the river behaves during spring months. That it can be unpredictable after the winter and flood a large part of the land. This happened regularly but they did not take it into consideration. They thought that rice likes humidity and thus they did not see a problem with this."
The first two years were dry and the river did not burst its banks. They harvested two crops, which were allegedly very small.
"That rice, it was something like third class," said Czibulya. "But it was after the war and so it might have been used."
During the third year the flooded Ipeľ destroyed the whole harvest and the rice project was stopped. Damages of millions of crowns were incurred.
"At that time this was an enormous amount of money and so there was also a lawsuit," said Czibulya. "A few people were found guilty but then it was all swept under the carpet. Communism needed positive stories and this did not fit in with them."
Nonetheless, the experiment has had one positive result. It left behind a wetland that people are now doing their best to protect.


Trenčín
Bikers meet

Motorbike lovers on the Ride of Kings around the Trenčín Region.
photo: SITA

SEVEN HUNDRED motorbike lovers from the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Austria, Germany and Slovakia gathered at the Ostrov sports arena in Trenčín for the fifth annual Motoparty.
On Saturday, May 19, the attendants went for a 140-kilometre Ride of Kings around the Trenčín Region.
Competitions at the gathering, organised by the local Black Kings motorcycle club, tested attendants' skills at slow driving and beer drinking. A biggest-belly contest was also part of the festivities.


Bratislava
SND tries to draw new crowds

THE FIRST month after the opening of the Slovak National Theatre's new building next to the Danube in Bratislava has brought neither a large increase nor decrease in attendees, the Sme daily reported on May 15.
The theatre is making an intensive effort to boost ticket sales but so far has not had much luck.
Audience sizes in the new building are about the same as they were in the old; the theatre is using only two-thirds of its capacity. The one exception is the Studio (a small drama hall with 192 seats), which is normally full.
A revamped version of Swan Lake sold out on its first night and Warhol, a new ballet about pop-artist Andy Warhol, sold out when ticket prices were lowered to only Sk80-Sk200 (€2.40-€6.00). The discounted ticket prices were comparable to those charged at the SND's old building on Hviezdoslavovo Square.


Skalica
Trdelník festival held in Skalica

The attempt to bake a record trdelník drew onlookers.
photo: Igor Svítok

AROUND 5,500 people went to the western Slovak town of Skalica on May 19 to have a taste of fresh trdelník, a local speciality, during Skalica's third Trdlofest.
A competition for the biggest trdelník, a cake baked over an open fire, was part of the festival. This sweet pastry is made by wrapping the dough around a wooden rod called a trdlo and baking it over an open fire. Afterwards it is covered with crushed nuts and sugar.
Last year's champions, Mária and Jarolím Romančík, won again this year with their 154.5-centimetre-long trdelník, 44.5 centimetres longer than last year.
The winners managed to roll the dough over a 211-centimetre wooden rod on the first attempt. It took them 20 minutes to bake the trdelník and the spectators only 15 minutes to eat it.


Hejce
Monument to victims of military plane crash

Hundreds of people gathered at the memorial to the plane-crash victims.
photo: TASR

SLOVAK Defence Minister František Kašický unveiled a memorial to the 42 victims of the Slovak AN-24 military plane crash in Hejce (north-eastern Hungary) that took place in January 2006, the TASR news wire wrote.
Kašický, his Hungarian counterpart Imre Szekeres and Mayor Géza Rohály of Hejce also laid wreaths at the monument on Borsó Hill during the ceremony on May 19.
The ceremony was attended by the victims' relatives and by representatives of organizations that contributed towards the memorial's construction. Martin Farkaš, the accident's only survivor, was also present.
The accident took place outside Hejce, a village five kilometres from the Slovak-Hungarian border, shortly after 07:30 on January 19, 2006. The plane was carrying 43 military personnel - 28 soldiers returning home from the KFOR peacekeeping mission in Kosovo, seven logistical-support staff and eight crew members.
The monument, made by Slovak sculptor Ladislav Sabo, cost Sk4.5 million (€133,600).

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