45th Annual Birmingham Ethnic Festival set for Aug. 18

        One of Toledo’s oldest and most popular ethnic festivals, The Birmingham Ethnic Festival will be held Aug. 18 in Toledo’s historic Birmingham neighborhood. Festival hours are noon-9 p.m. Special Saturday events will also be held in conjunction with the annual festival, which promises to be “A Weekend in the Old Country.”
        For 45 years, the festival has celebrated the strength and diversity of the community and a continuing fight for the preservation and recognition of Toledo’s Birmingham neighborhood.
        Organizers are returning to the celebration’s roots with a one-day festival format, however, the community is invited to join in festivities on Saturday night, as well.
        As an unofficial opening to the Festival Weekend, the 24th Annual Waiters’ Race will take place at 6 p.m. Aug. 17 on Consaul Street. The race, which features 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.
        Food and refreshment will be available from the Hungarian Club of Toledo at the Calvin United Church lot, 1946 Bakewell St.  The church will be selling chicken paprikás dinners beginning at 3:30 p.m. A dance party featuring Csaba Csengeri, a Hungarian DJ from Canada, will be held in the church parking lot from 5-8 p.m., with a break for the Waiters’ Race.
        The Festival will officially kick off with a Recognition Ceremony Sunday at noon on the steps of St. Stephen’s Church, 1880 Genesee St. The ceremony will begin with a flag-raising ceremony, followed by the 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.
        Festival-goers should bring their appetites, since, as always, the 45th festival will feature popular Hungarian foods including chicken paprikás, Hunky Turkey (roasted bacon sandwich), stuffed cabbage, homemade kolbász/sausage sandwiches, gulyás (goulash), palacsinta (crepes), cabbage and noodles and pastries, along with an array of other ethnic foods on Consaul Street.
        Chicken paprikás dinners will be sold at St. Stephen’s School Hall Sunday beginning at noon.
        Craft vendors will also be selling their wares on the Consaul Street mall. Children’s activities will be centered at Consaul and Genesee streets.
        Ethnic dance groups will perform on the three Main Stages at the St. Stephen’s/Hungarian Club site, Calvin United and VFW 4906 on Consaul Street. Scheduled performers include the Dayton Hungarian Festival Club Dancers, Molly’s Irish Dancers, Bavarian Sportsclub Holzhacker Schuhplattlers, Echoes of Poland, Rumblin’ Rhythm Cloggers, and El Corazon de Mexico.
        Popular bands will perform a wide variety of music in the evening on the three Main Stages. Featured bands Tru Brew and East River Drive Band.
         Handicap parking is available off Front and Burr streets, with transportation available to the festival and facilities throughout the festival grounds.
        For those hoping to attend a church service, Calvin United is having worship at 3 on Saturday, while St. Stephen’s Church will hold Mass at 8 a.m. on Sunday.
        More information about the festivities on Saturday and Sunday can be found online at birminghamethnicfestival.wordpress.com and on the festival’s Facebook page.


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