The Prague festival offering passers-by a taste of Europe

06-03-2009

The Committee of the Regions of Europe is meeting in Prague this Friday for what is the largest-scale event of the Czech Republic’s EU presidency. To accompany the conference, a festival promoting the food and drink of various European regions is taking place on Prague’s Wenceslas Square. ‘Ochutnejte Evropu’ offers passers-by tasters of French wine, Belgian beer and a musical programme as well. Rosie Johnston was at the opening:

Europe has thousands of different faces, tastes and forms, says Prague Mayor Pavel Bém as he declares the ‘Ochutnejte Evropu’ or ‘Get a Taste of Europe’ festival open on Thursday afternoon. The market bringing together food and drink from all over the continent coincides with a two-day conference of European regional politicians being held in Prague.

Rousing Moravian folk music cheers up a grey Thursday afternoon at the bottom of the capital’s Wenceslas Square. It’s lovely, but leaves the majority of people who stumble across it, well, puzzled. The festival accompanies the single largest event organized within the Czech EU presidency but, with posters going up for the market under two weeks ago, I put it to organizer Petr Benáčan that it could have been better publicized. He was, nonetheless, upbeat:

Photo: CTKPhoto: CTK “We were really satisfied with the audience and with the public, because there were a lot of people there in the morning when it started, and the official kick-off was at 3:30 and there were, I don’t know, 1,000-1,500 people there. So for this small place, that was enough. And yesterday we handed out over 7,000 tasters, so that means that more than 7,000 people were trying these wines and beers and everything.”

But what percentage of those at the opening would you say were homeless alcoholics, because, as someone who was there, it seemed that that number was maybe quite high?

“Yes, generally Wenceslas Square is known for the homeless people on it. But we were helped by the municipal police and the state police. We tried to move these homeless people on, because you know, when you are giving something out for free then this is always going to attract homeless people. But we were only handing out small tasters of beers. We know this is the problem with this place, but we are trying our best with the police to clear the area of these people.”

‘Get a Taste of Europe’ runs until March 7. On Friday night, one thing to definitely look forward to is Czech band Gipsy.cz who will be headlining the festival’s main stage.

06-03-2009