In 2021, on the fifteenth anniversary of the highly successful 1971 World Hunting Expo, Hungary organized the World of Hunting and Nature Exhibition – the motto of which was “One With Nature”. The main event took place in Budapest from 25 September to 14 October 2021, but the entire programme extended over the much longer period of more than two years. To mark the end of the World Exhibition, this is a summary of the most important elements in its organization, accompanying events and programmes, from the end of 2019 to the end of 2021.
In Kisszékely, Tolna County, in December 2019, Government Commissioner Zoltán Kovács presided over the handover of the first commemorative forest planted under the auspices of the World Exhibition. This was followed by a further twenty-one, as each state forestry created its own one-hectare commemorative forest in association with the World Exhibition.
Also in the last month of 2019, the National Charity Hunt was organized for the first time as an event accompanying the World of Hunting and Nature Exhibition. This charity event involved 1,200 hunters and raised 37 million forints, which was used to buy medical equipment for children’s hospitals in Hungary’s nineteen counties.
In February 2020 the FeHoVa weapons, fishing and hunting exhibition saw the launch of the first six volumes in a series of collected works published under the aegis of the World Exhibition: three written by Kálmán Kittenberger and three by László Studinka. Over the course of the following year the series was expanded to more than thirty volumes, including books by the most important authors in Hungarian hunting literature, such as Zsigmond Széchenyi, István Fekete, Viktor Maderspach, Kálmán Csathó, Ákos Cserszilvásy and Count Lajos Károlyi.
The World Exhibition’s bird nesting-box programme was launched in October 2020. In the following months, state forestry enterprises, the National Chamber of Hungarian Hunters, national park directorates and a number of hunting associations, kindergartens and schools throughout the country placed a total of 3,500 nesting-boxes and 350 feeders, with the involvement of hundreds of children.
December 2020 saw the final deadline for the children’s drawing and story-writing competition held to mark the 120th anniversary of the birth of the legendary writer István Fekete. The initiative, supported by the World Exhibition’s coordinating office, attracted great interest: 205 entries were received from across the country and beyond its borders, with the competition for the audience’s prize attracting nearly 7,000 votes.
December is the month for a charity hunt: following the example set in 2019, in 2020 the event was held in every county in Hungary. In line with the internationalization of charity hunts, donations were also made by hunters in Szeklerland, Felvidék (in Slovakia) and Délvidék (in Serbia). This time more than 1,100 hunters took part in the event accompanying the World Exhibition, raising more than 30 million forints for children’s hospitals.
From March 2021 onwards Nimród hunting magazine and the National Chamber of Hungarian Hunters cooperated to ensure that around 65,000 hunters received the Nimród Newsletter, which also regularly reported the latest news about the World Exhibition.
Veil, the World Exhibition mascot, was the subject of a drawing competition for youngsters under 18 launched by Nimród Hunting Magazine. Nearly 150 children submitted their work by the deadline in May 2021, and the best drawings were exhibited during the World Exhibition.
The World Exhibition Office supported the creation of a shooting range in Csákberény to host the 13th FITASC European Combined Shooting Championships in early July 2021. The competition, which included clay pigeon shooting and static and running target shooting, attracted 130 competitors from 13 countries.
Refurbishment work at HUNGEXPO – the central venue for the World Exhibition, among other events – was completed by the middle of 2021 with 55 billion forints of government support. The modern exhibition complex comprises eight pavilions with a total floor area of 75,000 square metres. It also hosted the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress, and will enable Hungary to stage world-class exhibitions and events for decades to come.
July 2021 saw the unveiling of the Wounded Deer sculpture, which was renovated with the support of the World Exhibition Office. This legendary work of art, which is one of the legacies from the 1971 World Hunting Expo, was displayed at the “One With Nature” World of Hunting and Nature Exhibition and was subsequently returned to its original location in the grounds of the University of Sopron.
The reforestation programme was completed in July 2021, with the last site being the Gödöllő Arboretum. When planting commemorative forests for the World Exhibition, the twenty-two state forestry enterprises planted a total of 200,000 saplings grown from 23,000 kilograms of seed.
The official cake of the World Exhibition was presented in August 2021. Named Nimród, it combined the flavours of mixed forest berries, blackcurrant and chestnut, with a chocolate velvet frosting on top. Its creator was Krisztián Füredi, pastry chef at the Histéria Patisserie in Tapiószecső. Mr. Füredi has revealed that among the cake’s ingredients he also slipped in St. Hubertus liqueur, an iconic drink popular with hunters.
Alongside sweetness one needs pálinka! Also in August 2021, the winners of the “One With Nature” World of Hunting and Nature Exhibition pálinka competition were announced. The categories were pálinkas made from apple, stone fruit, berry, forest fruit, pomace, and those “bedded” with fruit.
Just over a month before the opening of the World Exhibition’s main event, there was the first event of the associated cultural festival. The Hungarian Agricultural Museum’s exhibition of hunting weapons was followed by the Cultural Festival, which included classical and world music concerts, film screenings, literary evenings, theatre performances, equestrian events and exhibitions of fine and applied art.
On 1 September 2021 another prestigious event linked to the World Exhibition began in Budapest: the 12th FEI European Four-in-Hand Driving Championships. The championships – held in Kincsem Park, which boasts newly constructed buildings – featured 43 riders from 10 countries, and saw the Netherlands winning both the individual and team events.
On 11 September 2021, Gábor Miklós Szőke’s sculpture Totem, which formed the gateway to the exhibition, was transported to HUNGEXPO, the World Exhibition’s central venue. The artwork – depicting the head of a roaring stag – is 16.5 metres high, 20 metres long and 20 metres wide, and was made from 10 tonnes of shed antlers.
Two feature-length films were shown on 13 and 20 September 2021, on the eve of the World Exhibition. The biographical film “The Last Hunt” gives an insight into the life and many adventures of Kálmán Kittenberger, the internationally renowned naturalist, hunter, Africa researcher, writer and magazine editor. The other film, “The Man from Berek”, centres on István Fekete, a renowned figure in Hungarian literature.
The 35th Congress of the International Union of Game Biologists was held as part of the World Exhibition, starting at HUNGEXPO on 21 September 2021. The Congress was attended by more than 100 game researchers from nearly 30 countries, who presented their research on game management, agriculture, hunting, urbanization, ecosystems and economic development, and the coexistence of humans and wildlife.
The eagerly awaited moment arrived on 25 September 2021, when the main event of the World Exhibition opened at HUNGEXPO. Outside the capital, the World Exhibition opened its doors in Vásárosnamény, Keszthely, Hatvan and several other locations in Somogy County.
The first day of the central event saw the start of the World Conservation Forum, in which 153 national and international experts gave presentations on interesting and topical issues over twenty days.
On 27 September the Veil School Programme was launched, with the aim of engaging primary and secondary school students. The success of the programme is demonstrated by the fact that 1,936 groups of children from 386 settlements across the country came to the World Exhibition’s central venue, providing memorable and formative experiences for over 60,000 students and teachers.
Commemorative coins and stamps issued to mark the World Exhibition were unveiled on 27 September. Both forms will be of lasting and significant value to collectors in the years and decades to come.
On 28 September the World Exhibition Good Offices Programme was launched to make visiting the exhibition in Budapest easier by improving accessibility for people with disabilities. By the time the programme of events had come to an end on 14 October, 2,309 people with disabilities had visited HUNGEXPO.
Also on 28 September, the “One With Nature” International Hunting and Game Management Conference started. The five-day event featured presentations by national and international experts on topics such as following: the relationship between game management and modern society; game health; the situation related to collisions between game animals and vehicles; and liability for agricultural damage caused by game animals.
In 2021 the World Exhibition hosted FeHoVa PLUS, the largest Hungarian trade fair for devotees of fishing, hunting, forestry and hikers, which opened its doors on 30 September. The four-day event attracted more than 100,000 visitors, who could view products from 102 exhibitors.
On 3 October visitors to HUNGEXPO were treated to a very special event, as the finals of the European Deer Calling Championships were held. The Championships involved 37 competitors from 13 countries, with 19 qualifiers from the first stage in Gödöllő making it to the final in Budapest. The Hungarian team took first place, and Hungary’s Máté Kasper won the silver medal in the individual contest.
On 7 October OMÉK – the showcase of the Hungarian agriculture and food industry, which has a history of more than 190 years – opened its doors at the central venue of the World Exhibition. The four-day event hosted 450 exhibitors, and the total number of visitors – as at FeHoVa – was well over 100,000.
On 11 October the World Exhibition presented the One With Nature series of nature films. The works covered a wide range of themes, but all of the films were long-awaited, much needed and aimed at young children, school students and adults alike.
On 14 October the central event of the World Exhibition was symbolically brought to an end by the release back into the Danube of sturgeons which had been on display at HUNGEXPO’s aquatic hall.
The figures speak for themselves: over the 20 days of the Exhibition, the total number of visitors to the central venue was 616,000. A total of 103 countries and 683 exhibitors participated in the World Exhibition, with stands representing countries, national and international professional organizations, gastronomic partners, showroom exhibitors and collaborating partners which accepted invitations. The World Exhibition also hosted 10 international and national conferences, with nearly 100 countries represented and a total of 2,500 participants.
The World Exhibition was also attended by key organizations and their representatives, such as the following: the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE); the International Council on Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC); the European Federation for Hunting and Conservation (FACE); the umbrella organization Operators and Professional Hunting Associations of Africa (OPHAA); Safari Club International (SCI); the Saudi Falcon Club, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO); the International Union of Game Biologists (IUGB); the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA); and the European Landowners’ Organization (ELO).
Among the ambassadors of the World Exhibition were actor Gyula Bodrogi, Olympic champion water polo coach and veterinarian Dénes Kemény, and Beatrix Bán, Vice President of the Hunting Cultural Association. International ambassadors included: Alice Kaka, Vice President of the International Union for Conservation of Nature; Danene van der Westuyzen, Chair and CEO of the Operators and Professional Hunting Associations of Africa; and Shane Mahoney, CEO of Conservation Visions Inc.
The main event closed on 14 October, but the series of events did not end there: a third national charity hunt was organized in December 2021 in conjunction with the World Exhibition. This time the charity event again attracted a large number of hunters, with 1,100 people taking part. Once again the organizers donated the funds raised to children’s health, supporting children’s hospitals and wards, and the purchase of medical equipment.
The end of December 2021 saw the final event in the World Exhibition programme: the FCI European Dog Show. The event, held at HUNGEXPO, involved some 16,000 dogs from 57 countries, with each day of the show spotlighting the best dogs in a particular group of breeds.
Today it can be said that, on the 50th anniversary of the 1971 World Hunting Expo, Hungary has once again created a lasting legacy. Proof of this is the fact that the “One With Nature” World of Hunting and Nature Exhibition organized 1,500 programmes throughout the country, attracting around 1.5 million visitors. This high level of interest shows that in our country hunting, the protection of our environment and nature, and sustainable management of nature not only have a past, but also a present and a future.