Sunday, May 18, 2008


Would you believe me if I told you I visited twenty countries yesterday? How's that for a cheesy start? We spent our Saturday in Pittsburgh yesterday for the annual Folk Festival.  A lot of Eastern European immigrants came to Pittsburgh back in the day to work in the steel factories and the city became rich in many diverse cultures.  The Folk Festival is a really colorful reflection of many people and places in the world.  It was well worth our visit.

As a side note, I can HARDLY write this because I'm so mad at myself.  I had my new camera on who knows what crap-awful setting, because all of the pictures I took are grainy and terrible and I am just SO disappointed.  I really wanted to have some cool pictures of this experience.

Anyway, there were tons of booths set up representing the different countries.  They were all selling food from their respective countries--it was SO hard to decide what to eat with so many interesting choices.  We ended up eating really good Thai food for our meal and we were not disappointed.  We sampled lots of other fun things.  Natalie even got a henna tattoo in India.

Aside from the food (kidding) the real reason we came up was to watch Nick and his Dad dance with the Bulgarian team in the show.  It was supposed to be all three brothers but as it worked out, only Nick was able to make it.  He did a FANTASTIC job and I was totally impressed by his skills!  He was a complete stress case this past week, because the dances were really quite hard, but he pulled it together beautifully.  Brother Matt was cracking me up with his commentary, "Nick looks great!  Man, is Chief even trying?  He's totally bringin Nick down!"  He's funny.
Guess that's the difference between 30's and 60's.

This is something Nick did as a kid with his family.  They would come up every weekend for months to prepare for the festival--then dance with lots of cousins and other relatives in the show.  Chief wanted to dance again this year for old times sake, and I'm glad they made the effort to do it.  

This festival has been going for 52 years and Chief remembers being about 10 when they attended the very first year.  Apparently, Bulgaria is know for being the "best performance" so they have traditionally ended the show each year.  And I will say, they didn't disappoint; they were great!  Nick was right in the middle and looked awesome.

After they exited, Mitchell and his cousin, Sotir (Bulgarian name ironically) could hardly wait to storm the stage.  They were dancing and stomping their little hearts out--it was very cute.  Once again, so mad about my horrible quality pictures.

Another tradition is after the festival everyone's invited to the BMBA club where there's a huge Vecherinka (dance) and wonderful live music until 1 or 2 am.  This is where my father in law spent much of his childhood--hanging out at the "club" with all his relation--eating, dancing, playing music and learning about his Macedonian heritage.  It is a really neat place to visit.  I love imagining all the people who have passed through the door throughout the years.  They have a lot of neat vintage photos that show some of the originals--Nick's great grandparents etc.  It's very nostalgic and authentic and makes me wish our culture had some of these incredible traditions, especially the dancing.  I think I'll forego the kissing on the mouth.

The music was great--gave you a real feel for the old country (not that I would know but you get it).  Nick's Uncle Ed plays the accordian and I couldn't help thinking of my Grandpa Mert with the bass fiddle on the stage.  It is always very rewarding to take my kids here.  It really gives them an idea of where they came from on one side of the family.  Nicholas and Natalie loved the dances and tried very hard to learn the steps and participate.  I had a blast as usual and left determined to learn some harder dances before I return next time.

The people are all so friendly and there's always at least one or two old-timer that takes you aside and helps you learn a dance or two.  There's such a great, festive feeling at the club.  This was the first time we've been since Nick's Baba (grandmother) passed away--so it was sad not having her there.  It makes me wonder if we'll ever return once Nick's dad passes on.

 I hope so.


Karen said...

I think that was the best blog. I am so glad that Nick made the effort and that you nicely supported him in it. He will be so glad he shared that experience with his dad and the old-timers.
Neat heritage for the kids.


Jek said...

How great is that!! Great experience. GO NICK! Vegas is always hiring for dancers!

is it just me or...... Get ready for a mean comment.... Does mitchell look a litte like Frank Lupcher in the first picture?

jill said...

I'm so jealous that your children have that rich heritage. You've got to always make time to do those things. I REALLY wanted to go and see Nick and Chief dance. Oh well. Way to go Nick, You're a star! ;)

In Season said...

So neat. I love the costumes or should I say uniforms. What a talented guy you married. He can put together an engine, build a barn, run a river and DANCE. Wow that is just impressive, and he looks so cute in his outfit. Sounds like a really fun time, and what great memories.

Jayne Layne said...

That really is so cool! Great Job Nick, I am proud that you did that. What cool outfits. What a great experience!

careymc said...

Man! How cool is this??? I had no idea Nick had such an interesting background - - how great that your children have that!