For an island best known for its sun, beaches, night life and celebrities, Hvar's October tourism programme is showing impressive diversity, as the latest event - Peskafondo 2012 - opened on October 4, 2012, as part of a very busy late season schedule which is combining Croatia's premier island's heritage and gastronomic credentials.
Tomorrow's promotion by the Croatian Post Office of a postage stamp to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Europe's oldest public theatre is the latest celebration in the island's cultural heritage and tradition, and coincided with the Day of the Town, St. Stephen's Day on October 2, which included the traditional mass and religious procession through the main square (see video below).
The introduction of Peskafondo 2012 to the October calendar is an attempt to prolong the tourist season by focusing on the gastronomic strengths of the island, as Croatian food and wine enjoys a growing international reputation. The three-day event, which includes a two-day squid fishing championship and has attracted international teams from Montenegro, Slovenia and Serbia, also consists of culinary demonstrations and a showcasing of the island's indigenous products.
"We are a tourism island with a reputation for sun and beaches, open only in the summer," explained Peskafondo's main organiser, Ivan Gospodnetic, owner of Restaurant Gariful, "but Hvar has much more to offer than that, especially when it comes to food and wine. Right now, we have four of our chefs in Germany, about to take part in the culinary Olympics in Erfurt, and our wine makers are winning international medals all over the globe. Peskafondo is an attempt to show off our gastronomic credentials, as well as demonstrating that we are very much open for tourism business in this warm October sunshine."
The event has attracted considerable national media interest, and journalists were invited to accompany Gospodnetic on his boat to interview the participants as they searched for squid, with some boats hunting at a depth of more than 30 metres.
Participants were required to return with their catch by 20:00 for the official weighing in front of restaurant Gariful, much to the delight of the local children.
The final day's hunting will take place tomorrow, with the winner receiving his prize at a special humanitarian gala dinner, with all proceeds going to the aid of a sick local child.