We look back at our first-ever participation in the Sausagefest in Sveti Petar u Šumi in Central Istria, where the Digital Nomad team not only broke a unique world record but also excelled in the main competition!
Central Istria never ceases to amaze us. Just a few months after the Digital Nomads in Residence program was held in December, we returned on March 18th to one of the most impressive regions in Croatia for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. In March, we officially announced the first participation of digital nomads in the traditional ”s Klobasicom u Europu”, in the village of Sveti Petar u Šumi with a special invitation from the mayor, Mario Bratulić.
The journey started on Friday the 17th. We met in the city of Rijeka and started our journey to the heart of the Istrian peninsula. The DNA Croatia delegation was formed by Tanja Polegubic, co-founder of the association, and Digital Nomads Steve Tsentserensky (United States), and British couple Sam Brown from England and Charlie Brown from Wales. We stayed at the Lovac Hotel, on the outskirts of the picturesque town of Pazin, a generous courtesy of the major of Sveti Petar u Šumi, Mr. Bratulić.
The night before the big fair, we attended a delicious wine tasting hosted by wine experts Jacqueline Marovac and Olivier Ertzbischoff from the Domaine Koquelicot winery, in the town of Gračišće. There, we pamper our palates with a select variety of the best of their wines, including Belaigra or Fugaz, as well as Nomad, which bears our name very well! We then closed a fantastic evening with some delicious food at Konoba Doma, in Sveti Petar u Šumi.
The next day, we went for an early hike to admire the area’s beautiful natural surroundings. Just a few minutes outside of Pazin, we took a short tour of the trail that follows the Pazinčica River. Its main attraction, the Zarečki Krov waterfall, was a true delight for our eyes! The digital nomad team made good use of the hours leading up to the big competition to enjoy good weather and great scenery on the eve of spring.
In the afternoon, we went to Sveti Petar u Šumi, which on that date became the center of attention in the entire region. Hundreds of people from all parts of Istria, and even from other corners of the country and the continent, gathered in the small but warm town to celebrate, among many things, its local products and the gastronomy of the peninsula. The atmosphere reflected hard work and effort on the part of the organizers, with a diverse offer of entertainment for all ages.
We met in the central courtyard of the Pauline monastery in the heart of the town, where the first great feat of the day would take place. In the center of the patio, we found a long U-shaped table, on which we would prepare, together with a select group of enthusiastic locals and skilled butchers, the largest Istrian sausage in the world! If we did, we would break an unprecedented record.
The digital nomad team was one of the biggest sensations, even in a fashion sense, as we proudly wore our spectacular polo shirts, designed by our co-founder Tanja Polegubic. With everything in place and the cameras rolling, the sausage-making got underway. The task was not easy, and we realized it from the beginning, but everyone rose to the challenge.
As the huge sausage began to take shape, we learned as a team about the traditional techniques used to make a high-quality sausage. Despite one or another obstacle or the patience that a task of this caliber demands, we knew how to take advantage of the occasion to enjoy ourselves and have fun. Throughout the day we were accompanied by Sanja Kantaruti, director of the Central Istria Tourist Office. Sanja has become, in addition to being an important figure in the promotion of the region as an attractive destination for digital nomads, a great friend of the association as well.
Hours passed and expectations grew. Anxiety increased both among the public and among the participants to knowing if the record would be broken. And it was not a small thing, since the event had the important presence of political figures such as the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Gordan Grlić Radman, or the Minister of Justice and Public Administration, Ivan Malenica, who also joined efforts to achieve this historic feat.
Finally, after a tireless and memorable effort, we managed to break the record: an Istrian sausage of 333 meters! Such a feat was totally worth it, and a special atmosphere of celebration was created among those present.
It was time for a well-deserved rest, both for lunch and to recover energy, since the day was not over. We then had to return to the monastery to close the historic day, this time in competition mode. In its ninth edition, the festival would bring together participants from different backgrounds, in order to determine who makes the best Istrian sausage. On this particular occasion, the competition would have digital nomads among its lineup.
Each of the participants was given a small bowl with the meat and the necessary tools to make their own sausage in the traditional way. Before starting, the rules and criteria to determine the winner were defined. Once the time limit is over, the weight of the sausage would be taken into account, as well as its presentation. After a short demonstration on how to make the sausages by local butchers, the competition began.
Each of the digital nomads presents participated, as well as our co-founder Tanja and the director of the Central Istria tourist office, Sanja Kantaruti. It was clearly not easy, not only because of the stiff competition but because of the work itself. A great skill set was required to be tested, including patience, attention to detail, and quite a bit of care. Some started well and with an advantage, but the slightest mistake or mishap could put their sausage at risk. Others started with difficulties, but with perseverance and determination, they managed to overcome adversity.
When the time was up, the sausage-making came to an end and it was time for the jury to issue its decision. To do this, they checked all the sausages and weighed each one with an electronic scale. All the sausages looked incredible, but unfortunately, the jury had to choose the three best and, among those three, the big winner.
To everyone’s astonishment, and even more so to ours, the digital nomad team had one of its participants among the top three in the competition! The jury determined that the sausage made by Charlie Brown took second place, which filled us all with excitement and lots of reasons to celebrate. Although the mission from the beginning was to enjoy the experience to the fullest, we would never imagine a result as exciting as this. Congratulations Charlie!
After the respective photo session with the organizers, the other winners, and the team of digital nomads, we were invited to visit the great product fair, where dozens of large and small producers showed the best of their product offerings, such as sausages, prosciuttos, bacon, salamis, cheeses, wines, rakija and much more! There was no better way to end a spectacular day than by sampling the best that the region and the entire country have to offer. And it should be noted that, for the most part, they were products of the highest quality and winners of national and international awards.
Our adventure ended as it should have, celebrating as a team and also with new friendships made with live music in a pavilion full of locals of all ages singing joyfully. Take a look at our first Sausagefest experience in the video below!
We want to thank the Croatia National Tourist Board for their sponsorship and support to make this experience a reality. Thanks to the town of Sveti Petar u Šumi and its mayor Mario Bratulić not only for their generous invitation and excellent organization but also for taking digital nomads into account to be part of this authentic experience. We also want to give a special thanks to Sanja Kantaruti from the Central Istria Tourist Board for their continuous efforts.
Check out the best moments from our Sausagefest adventure through the images below!
Text and photos by Jose Alfonso Cussianovich (DNA Croatia).