The Land of Hayracks

The first open-air hayrack museum in the world

Hayrack at Velike Pece. Photo - source: www.kozolci.si

July 2012

Hayracks are a special feature of Slovenia, and the fact that they are so numerous in such a small area is also interesting. Their presence lends additional interest to the fields and meadows. The hayracks of the Kranjska region were described already 300 years ago in ‘The Glory of the Duchy of Carniola ’ by J. V. Valvasor.

There are of various types - double, single, stretched. A double hayrack may reveal the owner’s special attitude to it. Farmers are usually very proud of their hayracks, if not even personally attached to them. This special attachment can be observed in the inscriptions on the dormers or on beams, which usually record the year of their construction or the name of the owner. They tell the story of the people who commissioned, constructed or used them.

They are used for drying grain sheaves, wheat, maize, clover, beans, hay, etc. Placed in fields, they are typical of the farm buildings in Slovenia. The hayrack is an important feature of the Slovenian ethnic area and an example of folk architecture worth preserving.

Initiative by the Municipality of Šentrupert

Mayor Rupert Gole; in the background, the open-air hayrack museum in the making. Photo: Boštjan Pucelj

Thus, the initiative by the Municipality of Šentrupert in the Dolenjska region to design a ‘land of hayracks’ is even more commendable.

‘This is a unique open-air museum where we re-locate old hayracks and restore them. We have already re-located seventeen and are planning to build two drying structures, i.e. an arrangement of poles for drying fodder and a small hayrack, which was actually the first step in the development of the hayrack as it is known today. The latter two are not considered hayracks, so we refer to them as drying structures. In total, the museum will have seventeen hayracks or nineteen drying structures,’ said Rupert Gole, the Mayor of the Municipality of Šentrupert, about the first open-air hayrack museum in the world.

All six types of hayrack will be presented at the museum: single, single stretched, single parallel, and low, stretched and double, which are double variants. The area of the Land of Hayracks covers 2.5 ha, with one kilometre of footpaths between the exhibits. The oldest example in the museum is a Lukatov double hayrack dating to 1795.

Supported also by the European Union

Photo: Boštjan Pucelj

Depending on size and condition, the hayracks cost the Municipality of Šentrupert between 600 and 8,000 euros each. The total cost of the project is over 700,000 euros. Due to its extent, importance and uniqueness, the project was also supported by the European Union. The first stage, which included the physical layout, renovation and municipal infrastructure, received 306,000 euros from the European Regional Development Fund.

The second stage, which included the museum content and programme, cost 90,000 euros, and was supported by the Leader+ initiative with somewhat less than 70,000 euros. This stage is being implemented by the Dolenjska and Bela Krajina local action group and is managed by the Development Centre Novo Mesto. The Development Centre Litija, which connects twelve municipalities from three regions under the ‘Heart of Slovenia’ trademark, is also participating in the project. Aleksandra Gradišek, the director of the Development Centre Litija, expects the museum to contribute to greater recognition of the entire area in the ‘Heart of Slovenia’.

Future tourist, educational and cultural centre

The museum will be a tourist, educational and cultural centre which, in addition to the main feature, i.e. the hayracks, will also offer expert guided tours, educational workshops, games for children and adults, team-building courses for companies and organisations, international exhibitions, concerts, fashion shows, overnight stays and theme weddings. The fashion designer Maja Ferme has already been contacted to provide some ideas on these themes.
 
The official opening of the Land of Hayracks is set for June 2013. In the meantime, the Municipality of Šentrupert will arrange the necessary landscape architecture and organise the entire centre.
 
Numerous awards have shown that Šentrupert is one of the most environmentally conscious and energy efficient municipalities. This year, it received the Gold Stone award as the second most advanced municipality in terms of its development in Slovenia, and last year, it received the award for the most innovative municipality. More at www.sentrupert.si .

Text by Vesna Žarkovič, Government Communication Office

Photo: Boštjan Pucelj