Romanian Festival – Cleveland

47. ) Romanian Festival – Cleveland – August 20, 2010

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On Cleveland’s Warren Road sits the oldest Romanian parish in the country…

St. Mary Romanian Orthodox Church.

Founded in 1904, the parish was originally built on Detroit Road to meet the demand of a wave of Romanian immigrants that started in the 1890’s after Romanians had enough of Austro-Hungarian policy. Later, in1960, the parish moved to the Warren Road location…
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…where Julia and I attended their Romanian Festival.

When we arrived, it was still rather early. They were still setting up outside and the stage was empty, so we took advantage of beating the dinner rush by seeking out some food…
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…which we did in the main building.

Thanks to the people we saw coming out of a room with carry-out bags…

…we easily located the dining hall.

On our right, the tables were lined up with a stage just beyond it. On the stage was a projection screen with Romanian musical performances.

On our left, we found the food…

…which we got in line for …
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…to sample sausages and chicken and dumplings.

I got an order of Romanian coleslaw (no mayo), stuffed cabbage (no sauce…how I like it), sausage and kraut.

Julia got vegetables, the chicken and dumplings, and a polenta dish with cheese melted in the middle.

We both liked the polenta best.

Having done a proper inspection of the building before eating, we knew not to eat too much when there was an entire room…
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…devoted to sweets.

We scanned over the typical coffee cakes and unfamiliar boema cakes…

…and we ended up with an egg custard dessert called a “smart cake,” a napoleon and a wonderful caramel-nut waffle thing.

It was the sugar high I needed!

Elsewhere in the building…

…tables were set up with Romanian souvenirs…

…consisting of flags, shirts…

…and even action figures.

Of course, there were also Romanian goodies in liquid form (Romanian beers and liquors)…

…but they used a ticket system to keep track of your intake.

On such a cool summer evening, it was nice to see that the festival wasn’t all indoors.

They set up…

…games and inflatables…

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…flat doughnuts, which you could get with apricot or cheese fillings…

…some tents to eat in…

…and one tent to buy hot dogs from…

…as well as mititei, or grilled minced meat rolls, made from pork, veal and ground beef. They gave us a sample and they were incredible!

And then there was the entertainment…
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…great, lively music necessary to make you feel – even for a second – like you were somehow transported to Romania.

With all that Romanian beer available…

…some guests may have even believed it.

But St. Mary’s Romanian Festival was more than coffee cakes and souvenirs. With the church having such a strong presence, Julia and I decided to take advantage of the free church tour hosted by the parish priest…

…and we were glad we did!

As you can see in the photos, the detail is simply amazing (click on each photo to make it bigger in a new window)…
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…and the photographs really don’t do justice to this work of art that took an artist couple five years to accomplish.

The sloped walls bow down to you, enclosing you in color and light…

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…as you admire the elaborate paintings…


…depicting the Stations of the Cross.

After the tour, we were able to visit the parish’s museum upstairs…

…which held a collection of artifacts originally brought over from Romania in 1923 by Queen Marie’s protegee Anisoara Stan.

These mannequins traveled to many parts of the country before being donated to Cleveland.

Perhaps that explains their glee.

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