70 - macedonian festival avon

34.) Ilinden (Macedonian) Festival – Avon – July 30, 2011

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As I’ve said many times, no matter how much I research, there are always festivals that catch me by surprise. Sometimes I hear about them through word of mouth. Other times, I find an announcement in a local paper.

But this time, two weeks ago, I was driving a different way home from work…

…when a most curious yard sign caught my eye.

I had never been to a Macedonian festival before, but was very interested in going. The promise of ethnic food was a guarantee that I would attend. And why not? The Republic of Macedonia’s geography suggested a cuisine with both Mediterranean and Middle Eastern influences.

My mouth watered at the thought!

That Saturday, Julia and I headed to Avon…

…to the St. Clement of Ohrid Church…

…where we found an intimate festival waiting for us.

We wanted to first check out the desserts so that we could better plan our lunch (an important practice one learns after attending many ethnic festivals).

Inside the church building…

…there was some rich chocolate-covered baklava, tulumba (syrup-soaked donut)…

…and plenty of other baked goods.

Panels around the room gave insight on Macedonia’s history…

…while a sign near the door taught the language.

The language sign was something needed for only a minority, it seemed, being that many people at the festival were communicating in Macedonian. People of all ages spoke the language fluently and it was wonderful to hear.

More importantly – one reason I love ethnic festivals – there was an obvious pride that only made me want to learn more about the culture and talk to more of the people around us (all of whom were courteous and made our experience memorable).

In fact, before I talk about the food, let me give you an example of the hospitality we experienced…

When I went to the bar to get some water…
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…I noticed that there were free peanuts and pickles for festival goers…
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The pickles were outstanding!

When I went up for a second helping, I asked a woman at the bar if they were homemade and learned that they were. I proceeded to tell this woman how much I loved them for their mild, yet full, flavor and subtle sweetness before walking away.

A few minutes later, after hearing of my praise, the woman who made those pickles found Julia and I and hugged us both – a very awesome moment.

And we both felt many of the people (festival goers and volunteers) were like that…

…possibly the result of all the great food available at the festival.

Once in line, we chose from kebobs (minced beef)…

…roasted peppers, grape leaves…

…and various stuffed pies…

…until we found a meal that suited us.

We enjoyed our delicious meal under one of the tents…

…as DJs played Macedonian music on one side…

…and kids played ping pong and jump house on the other.

But, even with all the excitement, we calmly enjoyed our food…
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…never forgetting dessert…

…or the free coffee we got with it.

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