A team from Croatia has won the sixth edition of the World Olive Picking Championship on the Adriatic island of Brač.
The unique event took place in olive groves around Postira, on the northern coast of the Croatian island.
“We celebrate the olive and spread the olive culture worldwide,” Ivana Jelinčić, director of the Postira Tourist Board, which is also the main organizer of the championship, told Olive Oil Times.See Also:Restaurateurs, Producers in Croatia Debate Charging Extra for Local Olive Oils
Eleven teams from European countries and a team of digital nomads based on the island participated in the event, which the Croatian team won for the second time.
Four local restaurateurs represented team Croatia. “Olive farming is in our blood. We picked as best we know how,” said Marina Martinić, not hiding her satisfaction after helping the host regain the title for the first time since 2017.
The task for the competitors was not easy, as all harvesting was done by hand. Each team, composed of four members (two women and two men), picked as many olives as possible in 45 minutes.
The team from Croatia won by a considerable margin, harvesting 13.2 more kilograms of olives than second-place Montenegro, which won the 2019 edition of the event. Poland, which won the title in 2021 and 2022, did not send a team this year.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
While only one team earned the title of olive picking champion, participants said they enjoyed the positive energy and joy of being part of a community tradition.
“I am in Croatia for the first time, and I am excited and happy to be here and support this wonderful project,” said Virginia Scapinelli, from Italy.
During the championship, a quiz about olive growing also was held in the olive grove. Representatives of Montenegro won the mini-event, and each received a watch made of the island’s famous white limestone as a prize.
Away from the competition, participants could taste locally produced extra virgin olive oil, which received a Protected Designation of Origin certification in 2022, visit other groves and local mills and partake in dinners and other evening activities.
Jelinčić said the idea is for the visitors to enjoy an immersive experience of the island’s culture.
“We are proving that agriculture and tourism can go together,” she said. “This is how we ensure an authentic tourist experience and a healthy and pleasant life for the locals.”
Along with the competitors, representatives of the Poetica distillery from Vrgorec in central Dalmatia came to this year’s event.
In cooperation with TZO Postira, they designed and produced an exclusive edition of 200 bottles of gin with Postir olive leaves. Both the gin and its producers fit perfectly into the unusual atmosphere of the event.
Kaisu Koskela, a Finnish woman from the Digital Nomads team, participated in the competition for the third time. “Olives have multiple symbolic meanings that align well with digital nomads,” she said. “We are happy that we can represent them here.”
Jelinčić celebrated the event’s success, which the Creative Tourism Network awarded as the best creative experience in tourism in 2019 and the FITUR tourism fair in Madrid recognized with an award in 2020.
“The award is a great recognition, but it is an obligation to keep improving,” Jelinčić said.