Liberty 2167

Serbian Festival in Cleveland

By Nikola Maric

Summer and Autumn  season is full of various events in America, from county fares and classic automobiles show to so called ethnic festivals.

The main idea is to attract as many people as possible and provide the good time and entertainment for all ages. And, please, do not forget the food! Eating is American favorite pastime, just take a look at how many people carry more weight than they are supposed to (When was the last time you saw an overweight Chinese?).

Cleveland area is a home to many different nationalities, from Italians, Germans, Greeks, Slovenians, Irish, Slovaks, Croatians, Serbs and a few others. Most of these ethnic groups have places where they gather, celebrate holidays, play music and cook good food which they used to consume back in the “old country”. Streets are peppered with signs of this festival and that festival.

Cleveland Serbs are no exception when it comes to festivities, music and good eating. Serbs contributed generously to establish a place of worship, building of the church, and a few acres of land suitable for Sunday picnics, place of gathering and socializing, after a week of hard work. Actually, even though Serbs are not the most numerous nationality group in Cleveland area they have not one but several churches, picnic grounds and even cemeteries near Cleveland proper. Did they need all these churches, picnic grounds and buildings and sports facilities for their people? Ask our old oldtimers, ask those of us who were witnesses to the devastating church split back in 1963 when brother stopped talking to brother, kum to kum, friend to friend. Serbs are strange people, they will go hungry, but they will contribute their last penny to show their opponents that they can do better and bigger.

One group of Serbs have their festival sometime in July. They attract many people, prepare Serbian specialties, play Serbian music, etc. Their church which is located in Parma was built by all Cleveland Serbs, and, naturally, carries the name of the first Serbian Bishop St. Sava.

After the split the opposing group bought a rather large piece of land in another Cleveland suburb, Broadview Heights, built themselves a roomy hall first, a beautiful church soon thereafter, but for a long time neither “side” visited the other, even though there was a peace between the two churches. Not wanting to give up the original name of the church their church also bares the name of St. Sava.

After the costly litigation in American courts  finally ceased  and the late Serbian patriarch Pavle  served the Liturgy together with the late Metropolitan Iriney the slow process of reconciliation ensued, people started to visit each other and talk to each other without accusations and finger pointing. Time is a healer, our young generations are better at this reconciliation task than their parents and grandparents, but progress is a progress.

The Serbian Festival at the St Sava Church on Wallings Road, traditionally celebrated during the American Labor Day, used to be called The Serbian Njegosh Day. It used to cost a few Dollars to attend this festival but lately people are not required to pay admission, and the activity is being called the Serbian Festival, just as the Greeks call theirs the Greek Festival, Russians the Russian Festival, etc. Only the Danube Swabians (Germans ) call their festival Oktoberfest, even though it is being held in September!

I think I’ll have to go on a diet for a few days  after the two days of eating stuffed peppers and chevapchichi (Americans are unable to pronounce this Serbian delicacy but they know how tasty it is).

This year there were no soccer games on the sprawling fields which are surrounded by three oil rigs, some wooded area and a huge Serbian Orthodox Cemetery. I am told that there are some 120 acres of property, enough land to build three soccer fields, even a tennis and basketball courts, but it just so happened that Chicago Serbs are holding the so called “Serbiyada” this year where even our teams are participating.


Full article in printed Liberty