By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal
North Mississippi is getting a taste of Croatia this week. The Yocona International Folk Festival is bringing a group of traditional Croatian dancers, called Klek, to perform in Tupelo, Oxford and other North Mississippi cities.
“These kids are trying to preserve their ancient culture, a lot like the way we try to preserve our Native American culture,” said Mary Sloan, a co-founder of the Yocona International Folk Festival. “We want our people to understand it’s important to pass on our culture.”
Klek has more than 200 members, but only 32 are coming to America. Klek hails from Ogulin, Croatia, which is on the Adriatic Sea coast, across from Italy.
“Eight are musicians, and 24 are dancers. They wear costumes, some of which are antique costumes that have been re-manufactured to put up with the strenuous dancing. The costumes are exquisite,” Sloan said.
The group’s name is borrowed from the name of a mountain in Croatia, and Klek was founded in 1980. Klek members are also experts at Croatian folklore.
The musicians will play on instruments native to Croatia, like the tambura, a guitar-like instrument.
This is Klek’s first trip to America. The group just performed at a festival on the East Coast.
Also on the bill for the folk festival are a blues musician and an Ole Miss student who will perform a traditional Turkish dance, like a bellydance.
The Yocona International Folk Festival also includes performances in Sardis, Indianola, Clarksdale and Charleston.
Yocona International Folk Festival
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Link Centre reception hall,
Info: yoconafestival.org or (662) 238-
Extra: The Yocona International Folk Festival also includes International Marketplace Day from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday at the Powerhouse in Oxford. The event includes food, music, dancing, storytelling, arts and crafts.