Cambria City Ethnic Festival
Labor Day weekend is always a big deal in the city of Johnstown, PA. While no one wants to wish the summer away, it’s impossible to ignore the anticipation of this Holiday weekend’s activities. The excitement is due in large part to the annual Cambria City Ethnic Festival, a family-oriented festival that fills the West End with people in search of live musical performances, top-of-the-line food and an atmosphere that is the very definition of ‘community’.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the Ethnic Festival continues to delight residents of and visitors to the Johnstown-area by providing traditional ethnic food prepared by local churches and free concerts by a wide-range of bands. “There will be copious amounts of food,” says Paul Kushner, Festival Committee Chairman for Holy Cross Lutheran Church, one of the participating churches.
Scheduled to run this year from Friday, September 4th through Sunday, September 6th and affectionately referred to as “Ethnicfest”, the heritage festival is the outcome of the hard work of local churches, their parishioners and other local volunteers and local organizations. The event limits Chestnut Street exclusively to pedestrian traffic and encourages attendees to further their knowledge of the historical significance of this part of the city by hosting tours of the area churches on Saturday and Sunday, from 1:00-7:00PM. “We’ll have ambassadors on hand to guide tours of the structure and sanctuary, and we have prepared an accompanying pamphlet with historical information,” says Mr. Kushner.
Churches participating in this year’s festival are the newly-formed Resurrection Parish, Holy Cross Lutheran Church, St. Mary’s Byzantine Catholic Church and Visitation Church. Each will prepare a mountain of ethnic food for the enjoyment of festival-goers. “Our parish has prepared 9,000 stuffed cabbage, 2 tons of haluski, and over 30,000 perogies,” says Monsignor Raymond Balta, Pastor of St. Mary’s Byzantine Catholic Church.
The weekend will be long on entertainment, with more than 40 live performances (both music and dance) scheduled at participating churches, Ace’s Lounge and the Bottleworks. Other highlights of the weekend include a polka mass, East European dancers, and a special ceremony to honor the public safety personnel that served during the September 11th attacks on America. For a full schedule of events, visit the Calendar area Cambria City Ethnic Festival Web site.
For this one weekend every year, all of Cambria City transforms into a family reunion, reports Monsignor Balta. “It’s really become a homecoming event. People look forward to coming to Cambria City on Labor Day weekend and getting the ethnic food like their mothers and grandmothers made. It gives them a chance to reminisce with friends and family.”
The Cambria City Ethnic Festival is held along Chestnut Street in Johnstown, PA’s Cambria City neighborhood (click here for a map).