2016: Max Vukas
Maxwell Ivan Vukas started dancing and playing the bass with the Seattle Junior Tamburitzans at nine years old. He was enamored by the classic folk music of Croatia and he was always an enthusiast when it came to singing. With the gentle persuasion that only Joanne Abdo can muster, Max danced his way through nine years with the group. Today, he looks forward to sharing the dance floor with the alum from his time in the group and easily recalls all of the lyrics. He and his family have traveled many times to Croatia. He is still in contact with the boys he met on Premuda during that first visit, fifteen years ago. He embraces his cultural heritage and proudly dons a tattoo on his chest of the three lions signifying the region of his family heritage, Dalmatia.
Max's grandfather and father were born on the island of Premuda, about an hours ride by ferry from Zadar while Nana, Milenka, is from Dugi Otok. He visits the family home which has been part of the family history for over 300 years.
Since Max was a young teen, he has helped his dad in the kitchen at the annual Festa Tri Kralje held in January to celebrate the end of the Christmas season. The lunch after Mass supports two orphanages in Croatia. In the last four years, Max traveled from Bellingham, no matter what the weather, to make sure he did his part to help a worthwhile Croatian cause.
”The Croatian community that I have been lucky enough to be apart of has provided me with lifelong friends, culture, and a tight-knit community. I pride my heritage and wear it on my sleeve where ever I go and cannot say how many people have influenced and guided me along the way within the community. Participating in the Seattle Jr. Tamburitizns during my childhood gave me so many opportunities to travel with the group and get a slice of where my family is from that many kids in the States do not have. I want to thank my folks for their commitment and their encouragement and support of me and my sisters”
Maxwell is a graduate with a degree in Chemistry and political science from Western Washington University. Future considerations are a career in wine making and he has invested in learning all that can about the process. On one trip to Croatia, he was provided with a private tour of Plavac, one of the largest wineries in Croatia; The winery, located in the Orebic region. The vintner, treated Max like family, inviting him back for the crush; this experience came because of the strong connections to Seattle area Croatians. This was the highlight of that summer trip and has inspired him to further investigate a career in viticulture. For now, he will continue in the family salmon fishing business. Maxwell has a new boat in Bristol Bay Alaska, "Roed Warrior" where he fishes alongside his parents in the "Mad Max". His mom and dad are proud of his 10-year stint in the bay and that he has managed to become one of the younger, successful captains in the fishery. Maxwell is exemplifying his Croatian heritage; wine, fishing, and quality political arguments. You just can't get more Croatian than that.