PlumFest in Vizovice, Czech Republic features contest in eating plum dumplings
Every year at the end of August, my mom’s native town of Vizovice in Czech Republic celebrates a big plum extravaganza that lasts three days. The annual PlumFest traditionally attracted thousands of people because of its free-spirited nature.
We stayed at my grandparents’ summer house at Krnovska 111. My grandpa Joseph called the old house a ranch, which was a stretch of imagination but it stuck.
I always invited a lot of friends for the festival from the secondary school in Zlin. So, the three days were a big party inside and outside all over the town. We picked up those who didn’t know where ranch was at the local train station.
Grandpa always looked forward to the PlumFest as much as we did, because he liked to party with us. I only remember him once really getting angry at us, and that was when someone on a Saturday night locked us up and threw the key to the ranch inside a rubber shoe. The next morning that person didn’t remember a thing, and just jumped out the window to catch the first bus.
The rest of us didn’t know where the key was, so we couldn’t let grandpa in. Grandpa thought we just didn’t want to let him inside his own home.
“Let me in you hooligans,” he pounded on the door.
Other than that incident, everything always went smooth. The program usually consisted of different bands including at the time famous band Olympic in the evening.
The town is also home to well-known comedian and mime Borek Polivka, and he quite often made a cameo appearance.
But, mainly Vizovice is known for the famous liquor company Jelinek that makes plum brandy. Plum brandy is exported around the world, and can be easily recognized by the plums on the vignette. Plum brandy also called slivovice was presented as a gift at the Heritage Mass at St. Cyril’s last week at the Czech Harvest Festival in Bannister, Michigan.
The major event on Sundays was the plum dumpling eating contest. Brave men sat at a long table on the stage. Assistants brought out plates with batches of 20 dumplings at a time. The rest of us cheered them and encouraged them to eat more.
One champion ate 60 plum dumplings, and then received a certificate and a paid hot dog at the local establishment. I never found out if he ate the hot dog. He could hardly stand up from the table.
The tradition of the PlumFest continues to this day. It takes place at the Jelinek liquor company, and it has been shortened to two days. So, if you want to test your eating capabilities, the contest in plum dumpling eating is this year on Saturday, Aug. 24 at 1 p.m. on Starobrno Stage.
For more information on the PlumFest go to: www.vizovicketrnkobrani.cz
Note: I published a recipe for cream cheese fruit dumplings on my facebook. I will also put it on my author’s page. Even though they’re sweet, they are not considered to be a dessert.
Copyright © story and photo by Emma Palova