Recruits' party, special forces unit in focus of military history festival

Pivka, 14 September - The Park of Military History, an increasingly popular military museum from Pivka, will put on its annual festival of military history from Friday to Sunday.

A Yugoslav-era submarine at the Park of Military History.
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA
File photo

Some of the exhibits from the period of the 1991 Independence War at the Park of Military History.
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA
File photo

The Park of Military History, a military museum founded by the municipality of Pivka.
Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA
File photo

The largest event of its kind in the country will culminate with Sunday's presentation of the Slovenian Army's special forces unit, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.

The Military History Festival opens today with a "Vestirnga", a traditional party for military recruits driving around in a cart decorated with spruce and crepe-paper flowers.

Each cart, pulled first by horses and then by tractor, had a name of the village from which the recruits would come and the year in which they were born.

The party, also known as "Štelunga" or "Vizita", involved a competition of the best-decorated carts from a region, but also a lot of drinking.

The tradition died out when Slovenia introduce professional military service in the early 2000s, but the museum has been trying to revive it as a piece of living heritage, explained museum director Janko Boštjančič.

The festival will feature a number of other events, including a walk through underground bunkers on the local Primož hill which Italy built in the 1930s to protect its border with Yugoslavia.

The Stanislav Požar Barracks in Pivka, the only tank barracks in Slovenia, will open its doors to visitors and display its armoured vehicles.

Festival-goers will have an opportunity to visit all museum collections, which feature a number of armoured vehicles, planes, and even a Yugoslav-era submarine.

A fair of military items and another of local produce will also be held alongside historical re-enactment military camps and workshops for children.

The number of visitors to the museum has been steadily increasing, according to Boštjančič.

More than 33,000 people visited it this year until early September, up more than 7% from the same period last year.

Foreign visitor numbers are also on the rise, representing a third of all guests this year, with the majority coming from the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland.

© STA, 2018