Sabałowe Bajania

Six women in regional costumes – shirts, corsets and long skirts, stand in a semi-circle on a wooden stage. In front of them is a microphone. The women are singing, resting their hands on their hips.
Sabałowe Bajania in Bukowina Tatrzańska is the National Contest of Storytellers, Instrumentalists, Singers, Best Men and Masters of Wedding Ceremonies. The first edition of the event took place in 1967 upon the initiative of Józef Pitorak, the then president of the Folk House, and now, with each subsequent edition, its popularity grows, along with its ever-expanding programme.

Sabałowe Bajanie in August is all about highlander traditions and folklore in its purest form. The event highlights the importance of folk culture and engages young people in cultivating traditions for years to come. The festival attracts crowds of people from all over Poland to Bukowina. Musicians and storytellers come here not only from Podhale but also from the Silesian Beskids, Żywiec, Gorce, Pieniny, the Gorlickie Foothills, the area of Babia Góra, and even from as far as Kashubia, Silesia and Kurpie Land.

Even the very name of the contest is noteworthy – it is based on the nickname of the outstanding storyteller and singer from Podhale who became famous as a symbol of highlander culture. This could be nobody other than Jan Krzeptowski, known as Sabała. This is why the event in Bukowina is a tribute to this outstanding man, as well as a reminder of his life. The second part of the name – Bajania – refers to the Polish word “bajka”, which stands for fairy tales, and means telling unbelievable stories or fairy tales. This is because, initially, the contest was intended solely for storytellers; however, as the years went by, new contests for folk instrumentalists, singers and masters of wedding ceremonies were introduced to spice things up.

The three days of Sabałowe Bajania start with the official opening in the form of a spectacular procession of highlander horse-drawn carriages. The whole event is accompanied by a number of events – performances, regional food tastings, photo exhibitions, shooting competitions and the Sabała Night – a special all-night party. The days of the contest go by in a joyful atmosphere, filled with song and dance. The participants compete in several age groups – there are contests for children, youth and adults. Depending on the place and category, winners receive prizes in kind, money and the so-called Highlander Pin. In 2011, the organisers added a new prize – the Bukowiański Buk, an award for outstanding artists in the form of a statuette and a high cash prize. The contest culminates during the Sabała Night, during which the men who support the promotion of regional culture are crowned as Bandits. Since 2010, women can also win the title of Wiyrchowe Orlice. The finale of the event takes place near the Bukovina Thermal Baths.


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