Curse that became blessing: drying of a brook
The drying up of the brook of Kapolcs was a sad case, but the curse became a blessing, when the Kapolcs Club was formed related to the drying. The change of regime affected the settlement negatively, as against their great expectations. After winding up the farmers1 co-operatives, there were hardly any job opportunities in Kapolcs. It is true that Kapolcs is situated in a beautiful place, but it does not belong to Lake Balaton and is far from the industrial areas too. As of 1989, there has been opportunity to establish civil organisations. As the brook of the village dried up, the establishment of a civil organisation (Nature Conservation Club of Kapolcs) was needed in order to manage protests and more planned community acts related to the brook. István Márta insisted that the word “culture” should also get into the name of the club, as he – a charter member – is adept in culture. Probably, he already had the idea of creating a kind of cultural tourism in Kapolcs.
Sports-fan to sports-fan – lodging according to interests
From the start, it was Elli Márvány’s – one of the charter members of the Kapolcs Club – task to manage accommodations. In the beginning, it was free of charge. Elli – who soon received the nick name “layer Elli” from local people – always knew where were rooms to rent in the village. Initially, she also paid attention to placing those lodgers to house owners who would get on well with one another presumably, because they had the same fields of interest. For example László Skaliczky, the famous handball coach, was put up at the house of the headmaster of Apáti, for she knew he was a great sports-fan. Later on, when the festival grew to a larger scale, accommodating required a higher level of organisation. Finally, Kapolcs ran out of vacant rooms, thus they had to expand the housing area to Tapolca and Veszprém. The arrangements of vacancies related to the festival ranged from Ajka to Gyulakeszi.
Great community cooperation – without experience but with enthusiasm
Despite that the people of Kapolcs did not have much experience in event organisation when arranging the first festival in 1989, it did not influence their enthusiasm. The common goal merged them and they redecorated the village with great joy. They even repainted the fence of the town hall saying “the festival and artists from Pest are coming”.
“I will never forget when „TV star actor” Károly Nemcsák appeared in top form, teenager girls’ hordes followed him wherever he went. They have never seen such a great man in their lives, only on TV.” – Elli Márvány, 1991
The most popular “big bangs” of the first two years were the performances “Karnyóné” and “Pokoli disznótor” that the crew members organised and staged in Elli’s kitchen. Tough they did not have much financial sources, it was replaced with creativity: they even used a cracked wooden tub discovered in the kitchen as a set in one of the plays.
The people who “shook up” the festival culture of the whole country
From the beginning, and (almost) every year since then, the squares, courtyards and streets of the tiny upper-Balaton settlements Kapolcs, Taliándörögd and Vigántpetend transform into one of the most beloved festival locations of Hungary for almost two weeks. They have everything: concerts, theatre, literature, dance, green programs, circus, talk shows and children programs. It is hard to tell how today’s Hungarian festival life would look like if Kapolcs had not existed, and how much influence Kapolcs and the Valley of Arts had on the development of the Hungarian festival culture. But you might suppose they had a great influence. Their success and good example inspired many people.
It is a fact that at the start of the Valley of Arts, Hungary did not have such a developed festival culture as it has now, and Sziget Festival did not exist yet either. In those days, there were just Budapest Spring Festival and Szeged Open-Air Festival, which were of similar importance. It is very likely that the starting impulse to the explosive development of the Hungarian festival culture after the change of regime was given by the Valley of Arts and Kapolcs.
The collection – all that culture may come
The members of the Cultural and Nature Conservation of Kapolcs have been collecting – as of the formation – the articles and other materials related to the cultural events. Their material has grown by now a collection consisting of thousands of documents. Most of them are about the Valley of Arts Festival, but there are articles, interviews, documents and records of radio and TV broadcastings connected to other festivals or cultural events as well. A part of this collection can be found in our database. These records might be useful mainly for people interested or researching in the topic of Hungarian festival culture.
Translated by Zita Aknai
- Nuszbaum Tibor: 1985 tavasza volt, amikor egy piros Zsiguli megállt a kapunk előtt (Völgytörténet.hu) 31. July,1990
- 444.hu: Művészetek Völgye július 19. és 28. között! 10. July, 2019
- HírTV: Fesztivál összefoglaló és beszélgetés a magyar fesztiválkultúráról, 6. August, 2012