Rowdy brass bands and revelers ruled the streets of the small Serbian town of Guca on Saturday as its annual trumpet festival hit full stride with music, meat and alcohol flowing in abundance.
The four-day affair, which ends on Sunday, sees hundreds of thousands of music-lovers from Serbia and abroad descend on Guca, a mountain town of several thousand people that locals say is best described as “quiet” during the rest of the year.
Now in its 58th edition, the festival draws the best players of “Balkan brass”, a distinct regional style, to battle it out on stage for prestigious awards.
During the day musicians also go table-to-table in restaurants and bars lining the streets, stirring up spontaneous dance parties as they blare their horns for tips.
“We’re very fascinated by the rhythm of this kind of music,” said Martin Miers, a trombone player who traveled from Germany with his wife for the festival.
“It’s the spirit of the community… this mixture of very popular bands and very high level, very sophisticated bands, that’s impressive,” he added.
The crowds draw a mix of Serbians, music aficionados and foreign tourists and backpackers, with many camping out in tents and vans parked along the town’s river.
Food and drink fuels the fun, with whole lambs and pigs roasting on spits and plenty of beer and rakija, a local brandy, to wash the meat down.
“Guca lives for these five days of the year,” said Aleksandra Radicevic, a 26-year-old who comes to Guca, her parents’ hometown, every year to sell cheeses and other local products during the festival.
She said she loves the sound of the trumpet but admits that after four days of non-stop cacophony, she “needs a break”. NVG