In early July, the municipality of Jelšava in the east of central Slovakia held its first Cherry Days festival. “This is a so-called ‘zero year’, meant to commemorate the more than 200-years’ old tradition of the first Cherry-growers’ Club in the Austro-Hungarian Empire,” mayor Milan Kolesár told the TASR newswire. The weekend event, starting on July 6, was timed to commemorate the 270th anniversary of the birth of the club’s founder, Pastor Pavol Valaský.
Currently, only local historical names commemorate the rich tradition of cherry growing in Jelšava, especially famous in Čerešník (cherry is čerešňa in Slovak). However, the orchards from two hundred years ago no longer exist, damaged in more recent years by local industry. In spite of this, the Čerešnícky spolok (Cherry-growers’ Club) still has followers in the form of the Town Hobby-Gardeners’ Club (Mestksý záhradkársky spolok).
On Friday, July 6, a seminar was held to discuss the historical club’s connection to cherry growing, as well as the personality of Pavol Valaský, while also describing the current state of fruit growing in the town, Kolesár said. The programme continued on Saturday with a culinary event, for which an array of dishes involving cherries were prepared and served. The festival culminated on Sunday with participants laying a wreath on the grave of Valaský.