Traditional competitions in scything grass to prove who is fastest and strongest have recently been revived and the second year of the Scything (Kosecký) Festival held in Prašník gave competitors the added burden of extremely wet weather. This was likely one of the reasons why the contest attracted only 13 competitors this year in contrast to the 29 who participated in 2010. Nevertheless, men brandishing sharpened scythes travelled to Prašník on May 28 from as far as eastern Slovakia and Moravia in the Czech Republic, Ľubomír Pastucha, one of the organisers, told the TASR newswire.
Their task was to scythe 50 square metres of grass, 1.2 to 1.5 metres tall and very wet after heavy rains, as quickly as possible. Less experienced contestants managed the task in 5 to 6 minutes while under better conditions the most skilful cutters have needed just one minute to scythe the area.
Historical records show that the first official European competition in scything was held at Veľká lúka Muránskej planiny in eastern Slovakia in 1830 when two groups of scythers competed. It became a distinct sporting discipline that spread widely across Europe in the first half of the 20th century.
The first modern-day competition in Slovakia was held in 1977 when enthusiasts from Brenzo organised a contest at the Banisko meadow. Unfortunately, the competition was televised and the adjacent military barracks were part of the broadcast and government officials viewed it as attempted sabotage, as no military buildings could be photographed or filmed at that time, and contests were subsequently banned for several years. But organisers then found an advocate in the Socialist Union of Youth and began to organise contests in the Upper Hron Region from the beginning of the 1980s. One of traditionally most popular events has involved competing teams of scythers from the villages of Terchová and Pohorelá.
18. Jul 2011 at 0:00 | Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská