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A Green Alpine World of Herdsmen and Bicka Sheep

When visiting Jezersko in the north of Slovenia, you have to experience the 56th Sheep Bal on 10 August, which is one of the oldest ethnographic events in Slovenia. This green land, surrounded by the Alps, frequently travelling back in time and reliving old traditions (also called "The stories of Jezersko"), is located only 60 km from Ljubljana. Visitors of the Sheep Bal can enjoy the taste of crystal water from the stream and experience what the herdsmen`s life was like. Driving the sheep into the valley, sheep shearing, carding and spinning wool are the most fun and interesting. In a traditional ceremony numerous folklore and music groups are presented. Feel the green Slovenia at a real bal where you can dance, sing and have lots of fun.

In the north of Slovenia, in the valley below the Grintavci mountains lies an eccentric little land, as the poem goes. The people there still know how to build an open fire by the Planšarsko Lake or prepare masunjek (a dish from cream and buckwheat flour) in black kitchen. At Jezersko, all preparations for the 56th Sheep Bal, which will take place on 10 August, are in full swing. This green Alpine valley in the Gorenjska region, which is a real mountain paradise, offers weekly programme for visitors in July and August: this consists of a guided tour of the natural and cultural beauties, fincluding drinking water from the clear stream Jezernica on Tuesdays, beekeeping with beekeeper Jože on Wednesdays, a rural excursion with typical dishes on the Karničar farm and presentation of wool processing on the Šenk farm on Thursdays, cooking in a herdsman`s hut on Saturdays, and an herbal tour on Sundays.

The Jezersko-Solcava sheep, an autochthonous sheep breed, is an important part of Slovenian natural and cultural heritage and was named after Jezersko in the north of Slovenia and Solčava in the Upper Savinja valley in the east. There, breeding of these sheep, also called "bicke", was the most wide-spread and the most organized. Because of its quality, their wool is perfect for a wide range of products. During the winter, spinning wheels and knitting needles were once very commonly used on farms.

At the end of June, herdsmen at Jezersko usually took the sheep to pasture to the mountains, even up to 2500 meters high, and traditionally their wives sprinkled them with holy water before their departure to wish them a safe journey. The return of the sheep and the herdsmen from the mountain has always been a special experience, the ethnological performance thus being the highlight of events, in which the herdsmen recalled everything that had happened to them in the mountains during the summer. Performances from folk groups and numerous musicians make this even more exciting. You also will not stay hungry as you will be able to try delicious traditional dishes such as masenovka with sour milk, buckwheat porridge with cabbage, and flancati (fried pastry). Everything is prepared according to custom on an open flame, as the herdsmen at Jezersko did it in the past.

Beside Jezersko and Solčavsko, herdsmen were also present in Bohinj, to the west of Bled, in the mountains above the biggest natural Alpine lake in Slovenia. In the Alpine Dairy Museum visitors can admire preserved authentic equipment for cheese production and read the documentary material, which recounts the life of herdsmen in the mountains.



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