Wednesday 10 April 2019

Benkovac Fair

Where can you buy a sack of potatoes, tomato plants, a fishing rod, an antique taxi meter, a live pig, a tractor, an axe, a huge wooden table, some flowers (or some flour), 10kg of cheese, a brass tuba (or a vegetable tuba), some socks, a horse, a cowboy hat, a giant spoon and a book about dragons?

The answer is not ebay. It is far better than that. In this fantastical place you can also get a beer and eat as much pork or lamb, freshly cooked on the spit, as you can eat.

Where is this incredible destination? Benkovac Fair, situated in Central Dalmatia, about half an hour from Zadar inland. You don't need directions. Just get yourself to somewhere near Benkovac town and follow the 10,000 or so visitors who go each month on the 10th.
Go early in the morning, if you want to avoid the huge traffic queues which form after 9am until 11am. By 2pm it's winding down, this is a morning event.
Parking is chaotic, so take care when driving along the road by the market as people return to their cars with chickens, sacks of produce, tools etc.

The Fair is free to enter and people come from all over Croatia to visit this famous monthly event. Mostly Croatians come for the social side of things, if you know any Croatian people, you'll understand why. They come early and sit in one of the many places to eat, where they meet their friends and talk all morning whilst consuming huge quantities of pork or lamb and of course, beer. Don't expect fine dining here, or even some potatoes or salad with you meal, but you can expect good value delicious meat and good company.

Like the ancient fairs that were held in many European countries 100 years ago and more, this is a really traditional event, where almost anything you can imagine can be bought and sold. The focus is on agriculture and food but you can also buy any kind of clothing, tools, etc.

Look out for seasonal foods and produce, they are always in evidence at the Fair. This month (April) I saw puzevi (or puzi) which are edible snails popular at this time of year.  Being Spring, there were also a large amount of plants for the vegetable garden.

I went this time to meet my friend Ljubo who was going for the first time with his traditionally hand-made furniture. He makes beautiful tables and chairs (and more) from reclaimed Croatian sourced hardwood. See for more information.

It really is a must go destination if you are in the area on the 10th of any month. The Fair is bigger in the summer months but even in the depths of winter, it is still amazing.

And if you really want that book about Chinese dragons, where else will you find it?

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