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A festival with spirit

MUSIC, intellectual debates, dance workshops, literature, movies and even scientific lectures: these are just a few of the attractions at the 17th Bažant Pohoda multicultural open-air festival taking place at Trenčín airport between July 11 and 14. Each year the festival attracts famous names in the worlds of music, politics and society, this year offering a performance by singer Tom Yorke of British rock band Radiohead, and former dissident, activist and former foreign minister for the Czech Republic Karel Schwarzenberg.

One of the stages at Bažant Pohoda 2012 festival. (Source: Roman Cuprik)

MUSIC, intellectual debates, dance workshops, literature, movies and even scientific lectures: these are just a few of the attractions at the 17th Bažant Pohoda multicultural open-air festival taking place at Trenčín airport between July 11 and 14. Each year the festival attracts famous names in the worlds of music, politics and society, this year offering a performance by singer Tom Yorke of British rock band Radiohead, and former dissident, activist and former foreign minister for the Czech Republic Karel Schwarzenberg.

Last year’s festival attracted approximately 30,000 people and the CNN news website ranked Pohoda among the 50 top festivals worldwide, according to the festival’s website.

The festival is marked by various changes this year, such as the addition of new tents for various performances, and the mobile stage Red Bull Tour Bus with DJs and live bands performing on the roof of the bus, Mário Gešvantner, spokesperson of the Pohoda Festival, told The Slovak Spectator. He added that each year the organisers enjoy searching for new ways to improve the experience of the attendees. This year they came up with the idea to auction off private access to a public portable toilet at the festival, prepared in cooperation with the Ľudiaľuďom charity web-portal, in addition to the possibility of ordering a special delivery of salad containing cod, mayonnaise and various vegetables with pastries to the visitor’s tent, prepared by the Ryba Košice Company.

“We are watching what people write on our web page or Facebook [fan page] and if a good idea that we can realise appears there, we will do that as well as when we see some good ideas at other festivals, which can be realised at the airport,” Gešvantner said. “Also, our partners come up with ideas of things to do for visitors, as was the case with the cod.”

Discussions

There will also be numerous discussions at Pohoda focusing on various issues that resonate in Slovak society, according to Gešvantner. For example, in the Dobrá Krajina (Good Country) tent, the internet portal of Pontis Foundation – which supports various non-profit organisations – will hold a discussion moderated by Štefan Hríb, the chief editor of the Týždeň weekly, about corruption in society. There will also be a discussion between a selection of lawyers and Zuzana Wienk, the executive director of Fair-Play Alliance, an NGO that monitors political party finances and transparency over the refusal of President Ivan Gašparovič to appoint elected general prosecutor Jozef Čentéš, according to the Dobrá Krajina website.

Gešvantner pointed out that since politics have a presence in real life, they should also have a presence at the festival. If there is someone who is not interested in politics, there are plenty of other topics to engage attendees, like a discussion on sleeping disorders hosted by The League for Mental Health.

“We [organisers] do not want the festival to be just some musical event, but we want the festival to have something more – its own spirit,” Gešvantner said.

Gešvantner added that at other festivals there are fewer opportunities to have fun until the evening, in contrast to Pohoda, where the programme starts in the early morning, offering myriad options to attendees.

Infection

However, last year Pohoda experienced some complications, namely a case of infectious diarrhoea that occurred during the second half of the festival and affected more than 100 people, which attracted widespread coverage in the local media. It was reportedly caused by norovirus – also known as “dirty hands sickness” – according to the Sme daily, citing the Regional Public Health Authority in Trenčín.

Organisers cannot prevent such complications, Gešvantner said, arguing that the hot summer weather is the perfect condition for the spread of viruses. However, visitors willing to minimise such complications may use hand sanitizer gel placed close to toilets or receive a vial of the gel from some of Pohoda’s partners.

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