Columbus, OH - Blessed with excellent weather after many weeks of rain, St. Stevan of Dechani Serbian Orthodox Church in Columbus, Ohio, hosted their most successful annual Serbian Festival yet on Saturday, July 25. Held year after year on the last Saturday in July, the Festival’s venue has always been outdoors on the church grounds; so we always pray for good weather and, as usual, God answers our prayers!
Our attendance of well over a thousand exceeded all our expectations. Being at what one might call an “outpost” with no other Serbian Church in the vicinity for over one hundred miles – Cincinnati, Steubenville and North Canton being the closest – we welcome as many Serbian brothers and sisters who can attend but also reach out to other Orthodox Churches in the area and the Columbus community in general. Our Festivals provide an opportunity to share our Faith and Serbian culture with all. And the Columbus community happily attends year after year.
This year the main feature on our venue was our newly built pavilion – the Srpski Cuce built just in time for the Festival and proudly furling huge Serbian and American flags. Structured in true Serbian style and large enough to house tables and chairs for our guests, the pavilion allows space for chevap grilling and an array of pastry and other food offerings. With construction having to wait for spring weather warm enough to break ground and despite the many summer rainstorms thereafter, with God’s Blessings and the hard work of church stewards and other volunteers, the pavilion was completed in time to host guests at the Festival.
Also new this year was the beautifully decorated “Kafe Belgrade”. Set with floral displays near the new pavilion, the kafe with overhead, lighted tenting added a place to relax and enjoy the embodiment of a Serbian Festival.
Though “Kafe Belgrade” and the Srpski Kuce (pavilion) were a short distance away, easily heard were the strains of Orkestra Lira of Detroit playing live in the Shelter House for folks dancing kolos and singing along.
Traditional food, as always prepared by our Kolo Sestara and other members of our parish, included fire-roasted lamb and pig, chevapi, sarma, gibanica, burek, chicken paprikas, podvarak, pecene paprika, Srpski salata, kupus salata, krompir salata, and, of course, the ever-popular apple strudel, nutrolls, breads, and home-baked pastries by the master bakers in our parish.
The St. Stevan Bookstore offered a vast array of books, icons, religious items and Serbian artifacts for sale. Members of the Kosovo Male Choir also sold their CDs to those interested in our Faith and culture.
What was discovered interesting in attendance this year was a group who were celebrating a family reunion at our Festival. This gives our organizers a wonderful idea to bring more people together every year.
Parishioners of the St. Stevan of Dechani Serbian Orthodox Church love sharing their beloved Faith and Serbian heritage with all peoples in the Columbus community. It is but another method of Christian outreach -- an opportunity for us to show in a true light the Serbian Faith and culture in action. As guests departed after many hours of joyful merriment basking in Serbian hospitality, not a negative word could be heard.
The stewards of St. Stevan of Dechani Serbian Orthodox, which include their kumovi and families who come every year to work at the Festival, are deeply involved in Christian Stewardship through donations of their time, talent and treasure in helping to make the Festival a success. The three Ts as they are known have been given to us by God and we, in turn, give back to Him to support our small parish of faithful Orthodox Christians.
Though exhausted from our work at one of the smallest Serbian Church parishes, we look forward to next year and another opportunity to share Serbian love with our Columbus community and those able to travel to our outpost.
Article by Danica (Diane) Grahovac