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Ethnic food, cultures celebrated at church’s European Festival


If you’re good at pinching pierogies, you could win a $50 restaurant gift certificate at St. Mary Magdalene Byzantine Catholic Church’s eighth-annual European Festival. The celebration of ethnic food, music and dance takes place from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m Saturday at the Fairview Park church, 5390 W. 220th St.

The contest preparing dumplings is a new event this year, open to anyone 16 and older. The 4:30 p.m. event will by judged based on speed as well as completeness of pinching. Besides the gift certificate, the winner will receive a T-shirt and coupon for a dozen pierogies regularly sold by the church.

“Honky Express,” a Cleveland-area polka band, will headline the day’s entertainment with music from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m.

The entertainment starts at 11:15 a.m. with the Tribal Fire Dancers, a belly-dancing group. Other performing groups are the Cannon Irish Dancers (12:30 p.m.); Piast, a Polish, Artistic Folk Song and Dance Ensemble (1:15 p.m.); The Italian Choral Group (2 p.m.); Gottscheer Tanz und Spielkreis Austrian Dancers (3 p.m.) and the Buna Vestire Romanian Dancers (3:30 p.m.).

The food menu, for sit-down or take-out meals, includes pierogies, stuffed cabbage (holupki), pork goulash, kielbasa and sauerkraut, chicken paprikash, sauerkraut balls, hot dogs and cucumber salad.

An outdoor express line for those eating on the run has been added this year, said Mike Surniak, the chairman of this year’s festival. Indoor seating will be expanded, he added, as a craft fair that had been part of previous festivals has been discontinued, he added.

A small outdoor beer garden will also be introduced, said Surniak, a Bay Village resident who has been a parishioners since his birth 32 years ago. He and his wife, Maryann, have two children who represent the fourth generation in his family to attend St. Mary Magdalene, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last fall.

Tours of the church’s sanctuary will be available throughout the afternoon. A half hour before the 5 p.m. Liturgy, St. Mary Magdalene’s pastor, the Right Reverend Mitred Archpriest John Kachuba, will present a talk on Byzantine Catholic beliefs and practices.

The Rev. Kachuba, who goes by “Father John,” said the festival draws many people from other parishes – both Catholic and Byzantine Catholic – and the larger community.

“It’s a good time to reach out to the community,” the Rev. Kachuba said, “not only in Fairview Park but the whole Cleveland area.”

The European Festival was launched in 2010 when Fairview Park marked its centennial and the city encouraged community organizations to hold special events to celebrate the city’s birthday. Particular attention is paid to the cultures of eastern European nations such as Slovakia, Hungary and Croatia, from where many Byzantine Catholics in America trace their ancestry.



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