Skip to content

History of the Birmingham Ethnic Festival

August 9, 2015

Born of events which took place in our community four decades ago, the Birmingham Ethnic Festival has come to be known as a Weekend in the Old Country. Over the years, thousands have come on this third weekend of August to share in the ethnic traditions, diverse culture and heritage for which Birmingham is known.

Over the years, several sets of railroad tracks on Consaul Street have been an ongoing source of frustration for motorists traveling between Toledo, Oregon and points east. Traffic is often stopped at these crossings by the trains. Through the 1950s and 1960s the Birmingham community sought to have a roadway built over the tracks, but to no avail.

When the city finally agreed to construct the overpass, plans called for a four lane bridge and the eventual widening of Consaul Street to four lanes, as well. This construction would have eliminated every building on one side of Consaul Street.

The heart of our community would have been torn from us. The Birmingham Neighborhood Coalition (B.N.C.) was organized in April of 1974 in response to this threat of destruction. Organizations representing all segments of the community came together to fight the widening of Consaul Street and subsequently to address other issues in the neighborhood.

In the 40 years since the founding of the B.N.C., the people of Birmingham have successfully addressed a wide range of problems. We are again fighting for our neighborhood (through the Birmingham Development Corporation) to minimize the impact of the expansion of the Collins Water Treatment Plant and to preserve as many homes near Collins Park as possible.

The first Birmingham Ethnic Festival took place on August 17, 1974. The first festival planning committee was chaired by Paul G. Hayden and included nearly 40 people, representing almost every church and organization within the neighborhood. From the first Festival Book we read the goals of this annual event as written by the founders:

Our intention is to point to the spirit of the original ethnic settlers in Birmingham. Their cooperation and unity of purpose was the foundation for the building of this community. The motivating purpose of the early settlers was their faith in the American ideal of success being equally available to all who are willing to work toward that end.

The Birmingham Ethnic Festival is an outgrowth of pride and enthusiasm of the Birmingham community, and its desire to share with greater Toledo a taste of the ethnic flavor which has so permeated the neighborhood. This pride has been a factor of great cohesiveness, sustaining the neighborhood through many threats to its very existence.

The Birmingham neighborhood has shown a concerted and serious attention to the betterment of the community, to the projects of beautification, renovation and preservation. This festival seeks, through its activities, to provide a means whereby the aspirations of the Birmingham community may be realized as fully as possible in the future.

MAY GOD CONTINUE TO BLESS BIRMINGHAM
AND ITS PEOPLE FOR MANY YEARS TO COME.
WE LOVE THIS COMMUNITY,
ONE OF AMERICAS FINEST!

41st Annual Festival Sponsors

August 9, 2015

The Birmingham Ethnic Festival Committee would like to thank the 41st Annual Festival Sponsors:

Gold Sponsors
William Penn Association
Treu House of Munch

Bronze Sponsors
Bethlen Communities
Calvin United Church of Christ
Epiphany of the Lord Parish at St. Stephen’s Church
GBU Financial Life and GBU District 3000
Northwestern Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council
PNC Bank
Toledo Refining Company
WSOS Community Action Committee

Supporting Sponsor
Bertalan Family
Toledo Blade
Buckeye Cable System
BP / Husky
Eggleston Meinert & Pavley Funeral Homes
Tony Packo’s Cafe

41st Annual Birmingham Ethnic Festival Program Guide

August 6, 2015
 BirminghamEthnicFestival2015_ProgramCover (2)

Entertainment Schedule 2015

August 4, 2015

SATURDAY, AUGUST 15TH

Calvin United Church of Christ
12:30-4:30 PM DJ
5-10PM TÁNCHÁZ with Harmonia from Cleveland, Ohio- Hungarian, Slovak, Ukranian dance music

Epiphany/St. Stephen’s Catholic Church
1-2 PM MATT KEELER
2:00 PM MOLLY’S IRISH DANCERS
2:30 PM CARLOS OCHOA
3:00 PM BAVARIAN SPORTSCLUB HOLZHACKER SCHUHPLATTLERS
5:00-10 PM TRU BREW

VFW
1:00 PM MOLLY’S IRISH DANCERS
1:30 PM BAVARIAN SPORTSCLUB HOLZHACKER SCHUHPLATTLERS
2:00 PM CARLOS OCHOA
2:30 PM RON SZILÁGYE-SAXOPHONE
3 – 4 PM MATT KEELER

SUNDAY, AUGUST 16TH
Opening Ceremonies with Gyanta Ensemble 11:45AM-12PM
Hungarian/American National Anthems

CALVIN UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST
1:00 PM MATT KEELER
1:30 PM ECHOES OF POLAND
2:00 PM MOLLY’S IRISH DANCERS
2:30 PM GYANTA ENSEMBLE-HUNGARIAN FOLK MUSIC
3:00 PM HUNGARIAN DANCES W/GÁBOR DOBI AND FRIENDS
3:30 PM TOLEDO HOLZHACHER BUAM SCHUHPLATTLERS
4:30-9 PM EAST RIVER BAND

ST. STEPHEN’S CATHOLIC CHURCH
1:00 PM GYANTA ENSEMBLE-HUNGARIAN FOLK MUSIC
1:30 PM HUNGARIAN DANCES W/GÁBOR DOBI AND FRIENDS
2:00 PM MATT KEELER
2:30 PM ECHOES OF POLAND
3:30 PM MOLLY’S IRISH DANCERS
4:00 PM TOLEDO HOLZHACHER BUAM SCHUHPLATTLERS
5 – 9 PM TRU BREW

VFW
1:00 PM MOLLY’S IRISH DANCERS
2:00 PM TOLEDO HOLZHACHER BUAM SCHUHPLATTLERS
2:30 PM CARLOS OCHOA
3:00 PM ECHOES OF POLAND
3:30 PM RON SZILÁGYE-SAXOPHONE
4 – 6 PM TÁNCHÁZ with GYANTA ENSEMBLE-HUNGARIAN FOLK
6- 9 PM BOBBY MAY & DRY BONES REVIVAL

Entertainment Schedule is subject to change.

Welcome Home! to the 41st Annual Birmingham Ethnic Festival Saturday August 15th and Sunday August 16th, 2015!

August 2, 2015

One of Toledo’s oldest and most popular ethnic festivals, The Birmingham Ethnic Festival: “A Weekend in the Old Country” has been held throughout the years to celebrate the strength and diversity of our community, our success in preventing the splitting of our neighborhood by a proposed road widening project over forty years ago, and our continuing fight for the preservation and recognition of our neighborhood.

The 41st festival will feature popular Hungarian foods including: Chicken Paprikas, Hunky Turkey (Roasted Bacon Sandwich), Stuffed Cabbage, homemade Kolbasz / Sausage Sandwiches, Gulyas, Palacsinta (crepes), Cabbage and Noodles, Pastries and a fantastic array of other ethnic foods on Consaul Street. Chicken Paprikas Dinners will be sold on Saturday (at 4:30PM) & Sunday (at Noon) at Calvin United, and at Saint Stephen’s from 12PM-3PM (Sunday only).

The hours for the Festival are 12:00 to 10:00 P.M. on Saturday and 12:00 to 9:00 P.M. on Sunday.

As an unofficial opening to the Festival Weekend, the 20th Annual Waiters Race will occur on Friday night, August 14 at 7PM. The race with relay teams of four carrying trays with a full pitcher and two glasses of beer has become one of the most popular events at the Festival. Entertainment and refreshments will be available at the VFW Post 4906 prior to and after the race. Also this year, a separate heat will take place between the Toledo Fire Department and the Toledo Police Department! Be sure to come down to Consaul Street and join in the festivities!

On Sunday August 17th, a Recognition Ceremony will be held at 12:00 Noon on the steps of St. Stephen’s Church, beginning with a flag raising ceremony, announcement of the recipient of the Birmingham Friend of the Neighborhood Award, recognition of local and international guests, and presentation of the Beer Keg Trophy to the winner of the Waiters Race. Mass will be held at 11AM at Epiphany of the Lord Parish (St. Stephen’s) prior to the Recognition Ceremony.

Ethnic dance groups will perform both Saturday and Sunday on the three Main Stages at the St Stephen’s / Hungarian Club site, Calvin United and VFW 4906 on Consaul Street.

Scheduled performers include Holzhacher Baum Schuplattlers, Molly’s Irish Dancers, Echoes of Poland, Matt Keeler (Folk Musician), Ron Szilagye, Carlos Ochoa, Dobi Gabi & Magyar Trixie. A tanchaz (dance workshop) will occur at Calvin United lot on Saturday, August 15th at 5PM and on Sunday, August 16th at 4PM at the VFW.

Returning again to the Festival will be the Gyanta (Rosin) Orchestra from New Jersey, one of the premier Hungarian folk music groups in the United States.

Popular bands will be performing a great variety of music both days in the evening on the three Main Stages. Bands to be featured include: Bobby May & Dry Bones Revival, Tru Brew, and East River Band.

Food and craft vendors will be selling their colorful and creative wares on the Consaul Street mall. An array of children’s games and activities will be available on Consaul and Genesee Street.

Handicap parking is available off of Burr Street and facilities are available throughout the Festival grounds.

In 2005, the Great Lakes Consortium for International Training and Development, with the help of the University of Toledo College of Law, facilitated a joint American and Hungarian training program partnership in Szeged, Hungary. The University of Toledo College of Law and the Szeged University Faculty of Law are celebrating the 10-year anniversary of their successful cooperation! The American Legal Experts training is a 2-year program in Szeged. In 10 years, 200 Hungarian lawyers completed this program and some also had an opportunity to come to Toledo, Ohio for a 4-week internship organized by UT College of Law. We welcome Dr. Peter Mezei from Szeged, Hungary to Toledo, Ohio and to the 41st Birmingham Ethnic Festival to celebrate this collaboration!

Come enjoy a Weekend in the Old Country as well as a great Toledo neighborhood tradition with great food, music, dance and refreshments in the historic Birmingham Neighborhood.

41st Annual Birmingham Ethnic Festival

July 21, 2015

We’re less than a month away now from the next Birmingham Ethnic Festival!

The Member Organizations are working hard to organize the Waiters Race on Friday, August 14 and the Festival on August 15 (Noon-10PM) & 16 (Noon-9PM).

If you need further information, or are interested in helping out, please contact us at birminghamethnicfest@gmail.com or (419) 205-1448.

See you next month!

Street Closures Due to Festival

August 13, 2014

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!