Gran festa da d'Istà

43rd Edition 2024

from 6 to 8 September 2024

Gran festa da d'Istà La Storia

The first Big Tent (Tendone) set up measured forty meters by twenty, but finding a marquee was the first problem to solve. They found one on loan from Heinz Leiner of Varna, the only one who had one available at that time, and who rented it to Canazei for several years in a row. The newly born Summer Festival and its marquee were an immediate success, especially for the music that was played there. It can be said that the Tiroler Nachtsschwärmer, with their trumpets, cornets, and trombones, made the history of the festival as they were hosted for six years. The "Tendone" lovers of today are the same age as the organizers were twenty-five years ago. The music that is now most popular is a mix of modern revival that appeals to the taste of the younger generations. The average age of those who frequent the marquee has decreased over the years, as even the youngest, those not yet of age, now have financial means that their peers, five decades earlier, could not have dreamed of. The music that has made the marquee's fortune, of selected quality, is now an indispensable reference point for those looking for the right melodies to organize successful parties. The organizers of the "Gran Festa" had intuited from the start that music was the heart of the marquee and have always worked hard to invite the best Austrian folk groups to Canazei. Those who came to play in Canazei toured all the neighboring valleys. Only rarely did the festival not succeed. For instance, when Franz Michelic was invited in 1985, it was recorded as a small flop, as Tarcisio Davarda says. He was certainly an excellent musician, but Slovenian songs did not suit the particular lively and boisterous spirit of the marquee. The Oberkrainer is listening music, different from what people were used to in certain places.

Gran festa da d'Istà
Gran festa da d'Istà

The seventeenth edition, in 1996, was the only one that had to do without the parade of folk groups along the village streets. Every other time, even if the morning weather did not promise anything good, it always turned fine in the afternoon. Some say that when the Fassa people show off their beautiful costumes, the angels above them laugh. But back to the fateful seventeenth year, it rained so hard that all the groups that were supposed to parade were crammed under the marquee, creating total confusion and a crush. One has to imagine the approximately 600, 700 people who were supposed to parade, all taking shelter under the only roof shared with the present public. There was already the larger structure, eighty-five meters long and twenty wide, which could accommodate 800 seated people. But that time there were about three thousand. Local groups were asked to return home because there was really no room for them, while those who came from afar found precarious shelter. Even the gathering of the groups planned at the Faloria hotel was canceled. Organizing a festival of such dimensions is not easy. Once one edition is over, in autumn they already think about signing contracts with musical groups for the following year. The most famous bands are in high demand and start setting their appointments early. If you arrive late, you risk not being able to secure them. It can be deduced that it takes a year to organize the Summer Festival. Even all the bureaucratic apparatus, hidden behind the scenes that no one sees, is an important part to handle. It starts with the administrative police with requests for dance permits, moves on to authorizations for water and electricity connections, and ends with a whole series of licenses to request and verify.

Between January and February, the folk groups are contacted, even if the invitation is renewed every year right after the festival with a "See you next year." Once, a group from Cles was invited, in the year when the Non Valley population's claim to a Ladin identity was strongest. Another novelty was a group from Engadine, and another from Udine. These are considered exceptions to the rule that only Ladin groups from the Dolomites participated in the parade. Among these, however, the "Mezzano" group from Primiero stands out, always present. Despite not being defined as Ladin Dolomites, this is a historic group of the summer parade. It was a real pleasure to see the father of the current president parade, a person of great spirit. Friendly and affable, interesting in his traditional costume, he was always invited, and when he passed away, the Primiero group maintained its place in the Ladin procession. There had to be, however, in the folk groups, a linguistic or historical link with the Ladin reality. Thus, it became the quintessential Ladin folklore festival. The Ladins of the Gardena and Badia valleys have always said they gladly participate in the Fassa parade in their typical costumes, because in Val di Fassa more than elsewhere, they can best express their identity through the costume and feel it is understood and appreciated. The Cortina group has also been invited several times. But on the occasion of a Grand Festival, it must have been 1997, when it was time for the Ampezzo group to take the stage, their president started with a speech about the war between the Cortina d’Ampezzo valleys, Val del Biois, and Livinallongo. It was certainly not the most suitable topic for the occasion, nor was it the occasion to address such a delicate topic, if you will. The fact is that after that unfortunate intervention, the Cortina group did not show up again. The folk group from Rocca Pietore, despite the disputes that arose between this group and the municipality of Canazei over the allocation of the Marmolada borders, is still present.

Gran festa da d'Istà
Gran festa da d'Istà

Every year there are also representatives from Val Biois, Falcade, and Caviola. Perhaps not everyone knows that old maps and books document the ancient lost Ladin roots of these people, who history has led to experience political and administrative events far from the Ladin ones. Organizing the Summer Festival also means experimenting. Like that time when, to propose something new, halfway through Sunday evening, the music was turned off to make way for a folk group. It was a performance by the folk group of Alba and Campitello. Even though the idea was positive, the experiment did not succeed because it broke the rhythm of the festival, and the band had to work hard to rebuild the festive atmosphere. In 1999, a carnival band from Zurich was touring Pozza di Fassa, which looked like it was made up of Swiss guards. They were friendly and amusing and were invited to the marquee to improvise a small show. They were so entertaining that it was worth it. Experiments have also been made with the bands themselves, which, all in all, have always succeeded. "But years ago it was easier to find true folk music. Now bands prefer to play modern pieces, revival, a type of folk elaborated in a new way. Those who proposed the purest folk music years ago have made a fortune and are now in an evolutionary phase until they get tired of treading the paths of rock and will probably return to the music of their beginnings." A small mistake was made on the Friday of '93 with the Triglav Quintett, five Slovenians perhaps too young. In 2001, the Alpenrock presented themselves instead, playing only in playback and in too modern a key. The following year the agency sent us the Sonnwend Showband as one of the best bands, but they did not live up to expectations. However, the audience appreciated them just the same because the drummer was the former member of the legendary Schürzenjäger.

These notes were derived from Tarcisio Davarda's records, who has always kept track of the musical part on his computer. Next to the bands, divided by year, he simply adds a "No" or an "OK," making it easy to know what to repeat and what to avoid in the future. The festival has also sparked some controversy. At first, the locals complained about the noise, the traffic blocking the streets, the loud music until late at night, and those wandering the village streets after having had too much to drink. But time heals all wounds, and even the diehards have softened. Even if they do not share the joy and enthusiasm, they turn a blind eye for four nights a year. The date of the Grand Summer Festival was not chosen at random. It falls in the last week of August or the first of September because it was designed for the Fassa people who, at the end of the working season, have more time to have fun and money to spend on food, good beer, and delicious "fortaes." The volunteers who animate the marquee also have more time available at the end of the season than, for example, at mid-August and even less before, in the heart of the tourist season. This moment represents a link between the fading season and the last effort of September. It is the Fassa people who fill the marquee, even though it attracts many tourists; indeed, some call to know the exact date of the festival to book their holidays accordingly. Why not? Why not combine beautiful mountains, beautiful places to spend unforgettable days, and as a bonus, a great festival full of tradition? Who can refuse the invitation to visit us on the last Sunday of August or the first of September?

Gran festa da d'Istà
Comune di
Crousc Biencia
Studafech Cianacei