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Ceremony of the European Village Renewal Competition 2022

Datum: 11. May 2023 - 13. May 2023

Article title

Receiving the GOLD Award on 11–13 of May 2023 in Hofheim, Germany...

After the visit of the evaluation committee and the subsequent announcement of the results, we had to travel to the Bavarian town of Hofheim from 11 to 13 May, where the award ceremony took place. It was not just a classic sightseeing trip, but we had a rather demanding programme. On the first day, immediately after arrival, a meeting took place between representatives of the municipalities and the evaluation committee, where individual examples of good practice and successful projects were presented. At the same time, we had the opportunity to meet again the commissioners who visited us last year. At the same time we had to prepare a stand with a presentation of our municipality at the European Rural Fair, where all 21 municipalities presented themselves. The participants of our tour were scheduled for successive services at the presentation stand, where they took turns after two hours. As part of the presentation of our village and also the region, we prepared for the visitors a tasting of frgals, sausages, meat spread, plum brandy, regional beer, povidel and dried fruit. Thursday evening was dedicated to the Bavarian festival, where the local brass band performed on stage. This was followed by a brass band from Austria and a performance by the Kosaks. The whole evening was in the spirit of a typical Bavarian "Bierfest".

The next morning we had excursions to several villages in the Hofheim micro-region. It was necessary to divide into groups, so we were joined on the bus by Belgians, Poles and Slovaks. Some of our group then went with the bus of another village. We took two excursions. Our group visited a village with 450 inhabitants, where one of the largest Jewish cemeteries in Germany was located, a Jewish museum, we had the opportunity to visit the local church, walk through the village, see the local kindergarten and talk with the local citizens. The second group traveled to a small village where they had the opportunity to see one of the largest solar parks in Europe, covering 250 hectares. Interestingly, the Germans had selected a site with minimal rainfall and infertile soil on which to build the plant. It was a perfect example of communal energy. The investors for the construction of the power station were not only large companies, but also, for example, the inhabitants of the village, who owned, for example, ten panels and thus generated electricity for their own consumption. But then there was also the Count who owned 120 hectares of the power station and sold the electricity produced. Another attraction was a small community centre and a local organic farm with a shop. After the morning program, the preparations for the festival followed. This took place in the sports hall of Hofheim. At the ceremony the whole competition was evaluated and awards were presented. We went on stage to receive the gold medal. The absolute winner of the competition was the Austrian town of Stadtschlaining.

After the end of the celebration, a parade of all the villages went to the square. Here the European Rural Fair continued. Again we had a stand open with a presentation about Ratiboř. At the fair, there was merrymaking, singing, dancing and, most importantly, we could meet in a relaxed atmosphere with fellow mayors and village leaders from the competing villages. We discovered that across Europe we are actually tackling practically the same problems and trying our best to improve our villages and lead them towards a sustainable future. Our stand was one of the most visited. The afternoon gradually turned into a big international celebration in the central tent on the square with delicious Bavarian specialties and of course their unforgettable beer. A local brass band took the stage and started a big party. We wish everyone could experience the atmosphere when with the first notes of music all young and old get up from the benches, stomp, bang on the tables, sing and make merry. At 10 p.m. the Scythes were again treated to a stage performance, where we not only sang in Czech, but also introduced Polish and German songs. At the end we made the whole tent sing with the international song Skoda lásky.

On Saturday morning we still had the opportunity to freely explore the town of Hofheim and at 1 pm we all said goodbye together in the big tent and it was time to leave. There was no shortage of good cheer on the bus, the harmonica soon sounded and the journey passed pleasantly. We arrived home on Sunday night.

Thank you very much to everyone who accepted the invitation and came with us to the ceremony. Thank you for representing our community, preparing the presentation booth and serving us for two days. I am sure that for most of us it was an experience of a lifetime connected to the success of our community.

Special thanks again to Peter Zapalka for his excellent interpreting services.

Martin Žabčík / Mayor

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