Birmingham Ethnic Festival – Toledo

38.) Birmingham Ethnic Festival – Toledo – August 18, 2012

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Even though Hungarians have been in East Toledo’s Birmingham District since the late 1800’s, the present-day celebration of the Hungarian culture didn’t begin until the mid-1970’s, when the community’s existence was threatened.

Throughout the 1950’s and ’60’s, the Birmingham Community had asked the city to build an overpass over the sets of railroad tracks that constantly stopped motorists along Consaul Street in the heart of Birmingham. Eventually, when the city did agree, their plans included the widening of Consaul Street and demolishing all the buildings along one side of it.

This led to the foundation of the Birmingham Neighborhood Coalition in 1974, who responded to this threat, saved the community, and helped Toledo remember the neighborhood’s original ethnic heritage…

…through a festival.

Now in its 38th year, the Birmingham Ethnic Festival took place along several blocks of the aforementioned (and unwidened) Consaul Street…

…where the centers of activity took place in the lots next to St. Stephens

…and Calvin United Church of Christ.

These lots were where you found the majority of homemade Hungarian food…

…both offering paprikas, stuffed cabbage…

…hunky turkey (which I’ll explain later)…

…and pastries…

…(not “pastEries”, St. Stephens)…

…while also both offering beer…

…and entertainment (Gyanta – at Calvin).

Of course, there were a few differences between the two…

…St. Stephens, for example, had a nicer music stage setup for more dancing…

…and they ran out of food while I was there, which could mean that it was really good (or they weren’t prepared).

Calvin United, meanwhile, had a bit more to select from…

…with some bubbling goulash…

…a bake shop…

…(with homemade pasta)…

…and a booth where you could get zwacked with shots of Zwack.

Of course, along Consaul Street…

…there were other ethnic food vendors…

…that included Hungarian sausage…

…chicken paprikas…

…and even more pastries.

Festival goers could even follow the signs for fresh meats to take home after the festival (Takacs).

But the festival went beyond food.

Festival goers could shop for Hungarian items…

…such as T-shirts (New York Pince)…

…imported products and accessories (Magyar Marketing)…

…while also finding the usual festival items…

…that included garments and jewelry.

One very odd thing I found about the festival was that it wasn’t exactly spread out.

By this, I mean that the festival went a bit east of Calvin United’s lot…

…and then seemed to end.

But, if you kept walking east (as I did)…

…you would realize that the VFW was also taking part in the festival…

…with their own brats, beer…

…and funnel cakes ( Birmingham Football).

Then, even further east…

…there was another huge gap…

…before the festival ended just beyond at the Rumpus Room.

Unless there were activities going on in these empty festival spaces later (although there were no signs or indications), it didn’t make much sense to me…
.

…and confusion only makes me hungry.

That is why, my friends, I ended my visit with this hunky turkey…
.

…chunks of roasted Hungarian bacon on greasy bread with onions and tomato (I opted out on the green peppers)…

…and it was delicious, especially after some paprika, salt and pepper.

But I didn’t end there.

I also purchased this kolbasz (Hungarian sausage) sandwich.

And, yes, there were complimentary Tony Packo’s pickles…

…which I can never say no to.

 

 

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