Festival fun times three
Tradition, cultural identity, and good, old-fashioned fun collide in three popular festivals this year that showcase everything that’s good about being a melting pot.
The long-standing Birmingham Ethnic Festival, along with the Toledo Hibernian Festival, which celebrates Irish heritage, and the Festival of India are all taking place this weekend. Don’t worry, though, with judicious planning you can visit all three.
The 38th annual Birmingham Ethnic Festival on Saturday and Sunday in East Toledo pays tribute to Toledo’s rich eastern European background with traditional food, dancing, and other entertainment. The festival honors the heritage of the Hungarian workers who moved to the area in the 1890s to work in steel, copper, and shipbuilding industries.
Betsy Rose Ujvagi, secretary of the festival committee, said she has been attending the festival since she was a baby. Now 30, the daughter of longtime East Toledo politician Peter Ujvagi, she said the event provides a chance for residents of the area to come back home and visit each other.
“Every year I say, ‘Everyone comes home for the festival.’ Everyone who moved out of the neighborhood comes back,” she said.
This year it is a two-day event with the traditional waiters’ race at 1 p.m. Saturday. The festival is held on Consaul Street in the Birmingham neighborhood and it kicks off with a parade at 12:30 p.m. led by the Cakewalkin’ Jass Band in honor of the 80th anniversary of Tony Packo’s.
Hours are from noon to 10 p.m. Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday. St. Stephen’s Catholic Church, the Hungarian Club of Toledo, VFW Post 4906, and Calvin United Church of Christ will feature chicken paprikas and kolbasz dinners, Hungarian pastries, paprikas noodles and gravy, kolbasz sandwiches, stuffed cabbages, and szalona sutes. Ethnic dance groups will entertain and vendors will be set up all along the street.