In conjunction with the annual Birmingham Ethnic Festival August 16 & 17, the following streets will be closed to vehicular traffic beginning at approximately 7:00 a.m. Saturday, August 16, and continuing through 10:00 p.m., Sunday, August 17:
Consault from Front to Woodford (access will be maintained to the Tony Packo’s parking lot & alley)
Bakewell from Consaul to Bogar
Bogar from Bakewell to Caledonia
Burr from Consaul to Esther
Esther from Front to Burr
Magyar from Consaul to the southern end
Milford from Consaul to Minerva
Burger from Consaul to Minerva
Caledonia from Consaul to Bogar
Genesee from Consaul to Bogar
In addition, the following streets will be closed on Friday evening, August 15, for the Annual Waiter’s Race associated with the festival:
Consaul between Front and Woodford; and Bakewell between Consaul and Bogar.
We appreciate your patience and understanding, and look forward to seeing you in Birmingham this weekend!
The following information is tentative and subject to change/update. Please check back periodically for more information.
Saint Stephen’s Church / Epiphany of the Lord Parish – 1880 Genesee Street
Saturday & Sunday (outside food tent):
Kolbasz on a bun
Hot Dogs w/ Sauce
Dumplings w/ Gravy (Sunday only)
Sunday (St. Stephen School Hall):
Chicken Paprikas Dinners – $11 per person
12-3PM or until we run out!
Hungarian Club of Toledo (on Saint Stephen’s Lot)
Saturday & Sunday:
Szalonna Sutes (Hunky Turkey)
Paprikas Dumplings with Chicken
“Hungarian” Hot Dogs
Calvin United Church of Christ – 1946 Bakewell Street
Homemade Kolbasz Sandwiches
Cabbage and Noodles
Homemade Baked Goods
Szalonna Sutes (Hunky Turkey)
Zwack – a fine Hungarian liquor
Gulyas (Saturday night only)
Chicken Paprikas Dinners – Saturday at 5PM, Sunday at Noon
(call the church office 419-691-3033 for information/reservations)
VFW Post 4906 – 2161 Consaul Street
Hamburgers & Chips
Saturday & Sunday:
Cabbage & Noodles
FRIDAY, AUGUST 15th
6:30PM Cake Walkin’ Jass Band (prior to Waiters Race at 7PM) VFW 4906
SATURDAY, AUGUST 16TH
Calvin United Church of Christ
12:30-4:30 PM DJ
5-10PM TÁNCHÁZ with GYANTA ENSEMBLE (Hungarian Folk Music)– with Guest Dancers Beatrix Magyar and Gábor Dobi
Epiphany/St. Stephen’s Catholic Church
1-2:00 PM János Antal and József Bakos (Musician-Singers from Hungary)
2:00PM HOLZHACHER BUAM SCHUHPLATTLERS
2:30 PM BLUES REVELER (Blues and Folk Music)
3:00 PM MOLLY’S IRISH DANCERS
3:30 PM CARLOS OCHOA/HORACIO ROMERO(Mexican Folk Singers)
4:00 PM BAVARIAN SPORTSCLUB SCHUHPLATTLERS
5:30-10 PM TRU BREW
1:00 PM BLUES REVELER (Blues and Folk Music)
1:30 PM MOLLY’S IRISH DANCERS
2:00 PM BAVARIAN SPORTS CLUB SCHUHPLATTLERS
2:30 PM CARLOS OCHOA/HORACIO ROMERO (Mexican Folk Singers)
3:00 PM HOLZHACHER BUAM SCHUPLATTLERS
3-4 PM János Antal and József Bakos (Musician-Singers from Hungary)
SUNDAY, AUGUST 17TH
Opening Ceremonies with Gyanta Ensemble 11AM-12PM
with special guests directly from Hungary, János Antal and József Bakos
Hungarian Singers and Accordion Players
Hungarian/American National Anthems
Calvin United Church of Christ
1:00 PM KIS SZIVEK CHILDREN’S HUNGARIAN DANCE GROUP
1:30 PM GYANTA ENSEMBLE
2:00 PM GÁBOR DOBI AND TRIXIE MAGYAR(Hungarian Folkdancers)
2:30 PM János Antal and Jozsef Bakos (Musician-Singers from Hungary)
3:00 PM ECHOES OF POLAND
3:30 PM BLUES REVELER (Blues and Folk Music)
4:30-9 PM BIG TICKET
Epiphany/St. Stephen’s Catholic Church
1:00 PM János Antal and Jozsef Bakos (Musician-Singers from Hungary)
1:30 PM ECHOES OF POLAND
2:00 PM KIS SZIVEK CHILDREN’S HUNGARIAN DANCE GROUP
2:30 PM GYANTA ENSEMBLE
3:00 PM GÁBOR DOBI AND TRIXIE MAGYAR(Hungarian Folkdancers)
3:30 PM MOLLY’S IRISH DANCERS
5 – 9 PM SHOUT! A FANTASTIC TRIBUTE TO THE FAB FOUR!
1-2 PM BLUES REVELER (Blues and Folk Music)
2:00 PM MOLLY’S IRISH DANCERS
2:30 PM ECHOES OF POLAND
3:00 PM KIS SZIVEK CHILDREN’S HUNGARIAN DANCE GROUP
3:30 PM János Antal and Jozsef Bakos (Musician-Singers from Hungary)
4 – 6 PM TÁNCHÁZ with GYANTA ENSEMBLE AND SPECIAL GUESTS FROM HUNGARY—JÁNOS ANTAL & JÓZSEF BAKOS
6-10 PM BOBBY MAY & DRY BONES REVIVAL
Entertainment Schedule is subject to change. Please check each venue for posted times on days of festival.
From the beginning, Birmingham’s strategic location near the mouth of the Maumee River made it naturally attractive to settlers in northwest Ohio. Even before the first Europeans arrived, Native American tribes were drawn to the area by its easy access to Lake Erie, its abundant fresh fish, and its location under a major migratory bird route. What would become the Birmingham neighborhood was settled early on by French, German and Irish farmers impressed with the area’s rich loamy soil. Streets and park names such as Collins, Valentine and Paine commemorate these early farming settlers.
Birmingham’s economic shift from agriculture to industry happened suddenly, beginning with the establishment of a foundry by the National Malleable Castings Company. In 1890, the company transferred approximately two hundred Hungarian workers from its home plant in Cleveland to its new East Toledo site on Front Street. Birmingham quickly became a working-class Hungarian enclave.
Birmingham’s name was meant to invoke a thriving iron and steel manufacturing center. And by the time of World War I, it did resemble its English namesake, as National Malleable had been joined by United States Malleable, Maumee Malleable Castings, two coal yards, a cement-block manufactory, and the Rail Light Company (later Toledo Edison). The population of East Toledo was growing rapidly, too, going from 17,935 in the 1900 census to 39,836 in 1920. With this increase came civic amenities such as sidewalks, paved streets, grocery and dry good stores, banks, bakeries, and saloons. Birmingham’s own neighborhood school came early in its history. The first public-record mention is in 1894, in the annual report of the Toledo Public Shools
The ethnicity of East Toledo and Birmingham in particular continued as the total population increased. The main ethnic group in Birmingham remained Hungarian, but others were present as well. Immigrant Slovaks, Czechs, Germans, Poles, Bulgarians, and Italians all appear in the World War I-era census records.
World War II brought profound changes to Birmingham. The number of Birmingham residents becoming citizens in 1941 doubled from the previous year. The numbers remained high throughout World War II. The socio-economic upheaval of the war years also changed Birmingham. Young women, housewives, and mothers left the home for the first time to staff the war industries while their boyfriends and husbands were drafted and shipped to far-off locales. These experiences re-oriented both groups, connecting them to different ethnic peer groups in the military and in the work place. The family and local community were no longer their only social influences, and a wider view of the world inevitably resulted.
While a gradual fading of ethnic consciousness in Birmingham occurred following the second World War, it came to an abrupt end in 1956 when the Hungarians openly rebelled against Soviet occupation and repression. Community cooperation grew as the newcomers were greeted and efforts were made to settle them in homes and jobs. About three hundred individuals came to Toledo; approximately one-fourth settled in Birmingham. The infusion provided new leaders for the community since a majority of the refugees were well-educated engineers, business people, and professionals.
Although the new leadership and ethnic pride the 56ers brought with them had significant impact, it was not enough to reverse the overall trend of Birmingham’s decline. As the 1960s began, the eventual dissolution of Birmingham as a vital neighborhood became increasingly apparent as the younger generation began to drift toward the suburbs. But in 1974, two events occurred that brought Birmingham back from the brink, both as an ethnic community and as a political force in the city of Toledo.
The first was the proposed closing of the Birmingham branch of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library. Residents organized a group called Save Our Library out of the churches and the 20th Ward Democratic Party Club, and after several reversals, convinced the library to keep the neighborhood branch open. The other significant event was an attempt by city and county planners to widen Consaul Street and build an overpass that would have split Birmingham into two parts. Birmingham civic leaders organized to respond. They mobilized a protest and blocked traffic in front of St. Stephen’s along Consaul Street, the main thoroughfare to the Maumee River. Teachers and their students together streamed out of St. Stephen’s School, stopping trucks and cars. These demonstrations enabled Birmingham to “beat city hall.” That summer the issue was voted down unanimously by City Council, and the bells of all three of Birmingham’s churches were rung simultaneously for the first time since the end of World War II.
The Birmingham Ethnic Festival, originally a victory celebration, has become an annual event – held continually since 1974 on the third Sunday in August, close to St. Stephen’s Day. The main effect of Birmingham’s 1970s revitalization was the rekindling of Birmingham as a cohesive unit. Birmingham was seen not as a random sprawl of streets and houses with a curious past, but a community capable of thinking in terms of “self-defense.”
Today, if you drive into Birmingham from the south along Front Street, you pass a large green highway marker hanging over the road, announcing “Welcome to the Birmingham Ethnic Neighborhood.” The sign marks the physical beginning of Birmingham, but the actual community remains larger than the neighborhood itself.
by Andrew Ludanyi (This article appeared in the 1991 Festival Book):
The Birmingham neighborhood of East Toledo is on the threshold of celebrating its 100th anniversary. The people that built this neighborhood began to settle here with the transfer in 1892 of the Malleable Castings Company operation from Cleveland to Toledo.
The earliest church records show that a handful of Hungarian and Slovak settlers were already in this area by the autumn of that year. The farms that formerly occupied this region along with Maumee now began to give way to the construction of modest working class homes, built in the orderly rectangular pattern which still characterizes the neighborhood today.
The continuity of the neighborhood’s physical outline is less surprising than the stability of the profile of its residents. The core of the community was composed of Malleable’s work force which moved to Birmingham with the operations of the steel mill. They were mostly Hungarians, but the community included many other ethnic strains, particularly Slovak, Moravians and some Ruthenians.
Later, these first settlers were joined by other ethnic groups, including Bulgarians and Italians. By World War I, the basic profile of the neighborhood was well defined, both in terms of its boundaries and its inhabitants. Subsequent changes and new settlers simply added to its diversification, but they did not redefine the neighborhood’s basic Central European mix.
The continuity is most evident in the churches that have provided the neighborhood with its centers of activity. Saint Stephen Roman Catholic, the Magyar Reformed (now called Calvin United), Holy Rosary and Saint Michael Byzantine churches provided the solid center. They were later joined by the Zion Hill Baptist Church for the ever-increasing black population.
The churches were surrounded by a self-contained community that was almost completely self-sufficient in its material needs. All this was reinforced by the people’s relative isolation from the rest of Toledo by the “hard boundaries” of the Maumee River, the railroad tracks, Collins Park and years later by Interstate 280.
Through 100 years of existence, the people of Birmingham have survived many crises and challenges. They saw their young men march off to Two World Wars, as well as the Korean and Vietnam conflicts. They faced the Great Depression and survived. The people confronted red-lining and sustained the values of family and community. In 1974, the community also stood up to city hall and won the battle of the Consaul Street overpass.
In all of this, community pride and ethnic solidarity played an important role.
On the threshold of their centennial, the Birmingham community has a lot to celebrate. They have done what few urban communities can claim in an age of high mobility and urban decay. They have survived!
In the process, they have richly contributed to the economic life, industrial growth, cultural wealth, spiritual dimension and political activism of Toledo and Northwest Ohio.
It is now time to celebrate these achievement and to contemplate the prospects of the next 100 years.
While reservations are still coming in, here is a list of vendors who will be set up on the Festival Mall:
Sand & Candy Art
Aryel Button Harmony
Arlene and Roger Mallon
It Works Global
Sabo African Products
Kim Pohorecki & Kim York
Me & T Soap
Curb’s Candle Co.