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Lorain International Festival welcomes thousands, with Greece being the focal point

By Ingrid Marie Rivera, La Prensa Correspondent

The Lorain International Festival is a multicultural feast on a global scale for all the senses, and nearly 20,000 people attended this year’s weekend bazaar, June 24-26, 2011.

A truly unique ethnic party to celebrate the diverse cultures - organizers said despite some rain and chilly temperatures Friday and Saturday, the 45th annual festival was a success with no major problems reported.

Organizers said there were 19,258 paid admissions over the three-day weekend, and that did not include children under 12 years of age, volunteers, festival staff and the entertainment that received free admission.

A very popular festival, it welcomed both present and former Lorainites, bringing visitors even outside the state.

The week-long festival, running from June 20 to June 26, 2011, spotlighted the roughly 55 to 70 nationalities and ethnicities in the International City, and featured eight separate events near Lorain's downtown during the week. Live performances filled the air at the Black River Landing over the weekend. But events for the International Festival began as early as April 30 with the annual wine tasting gala.

The city’s multiple nationalities were celebrated through folkloric music, dance, costumes, traditions and ethnic cuisine from over 40 food vendors. An expanded childrens crafts and inflatables area were available this year.

As this year’s spotlighted nationality was Greece; the Stigma Greek Band performed at the Black River Landing over the weekend while several people from the audience joined hands, moved in a circle and danced with sporadic kicks.

The St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church Cleveland Hellenic Dancers also performed to honor the Greeks.

Giorgia Nicolaou
, 14, of Lorain, said she has been dancing with the Cleveland Hellenic Dancers for 8 years and loves learning the new dances. The dance group has members as young as 3 years old to 18 years old and older. “I love being able to show our culture to other people,” she said was what she enjoyed most about being part of the dance group and having her culture spotlighted this year.

Catherine Hatzigiannakis, 16, has danced for 5 years in the same group, and added from her Greek heritage she loves the dances and the food the best.

The spotlighted organization this year was Cleveland Clinic.

The festival honored Greeks at the annual Lorain International Breakfast, on June 20, at DeLuca’s Place in the Park, Lorain. 

This year’s Band Concert at Veteran’s Park, featured more Greek music, but the rain caused its location to be moved to the Lorain Palace Civic Theatre.

The festival also featured the Heritage of Sacred Music concert, on June 21, at The Lorain Palace Civic Theatre that showcased plenty of songs of worship and praise from local congregations with an “International” flair.

As tradition holds, this year the Greeks were spotlighted at the annual Spotlight Nationality Cultural Night, on June 22, at Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, Lorain.

On Sunday, June 26, thousands lined up along Broadway Avenue to watch the parade that featured marching bands, dance troupes, and former and reigning princesses.

And the cherished annual Princess Pageant took place June 23 at the Palace Theatre.

This year’s winning royalty include:

The 2011 Lorain International Festival Queen, Slovak Princess Kaitlyn Knick; First Runner-Up Sara Andrews, Hungarian princess; Second Runner-Up Chloe DeAngelis, Italian princess; and Third Runner-Up Hannah Congelio, Italian princess. There were 22 princesses competing this year.

Kaitlyn Knick, 18, this year's Queen, said “It’s amazing. It still hasn’t completely sunk in yet.” She was working the Kid’s Cafe with Andrews at the festival on Friday. At the pageant, Knick danced the Polka with three other girls during the talent show segment. Andrews, 18, did the Hungarian Pillow Dance with three others. Knick and her court will be representing Lorain for a year at area festivals.

Knick and Andrews both graduated this spring from Marion L. Steele High School, and both plan to attend college. Knick plans to attend the University of Findlay for pharmacy. Knick, like Andrews, said this was her second year participating in the pageant, and advises other girls to keep trying if on the first try they do not succeed. “Look where it got me,” Knick said.

To see La Prensa’s video coverage of the Lorain International Festival events and parade see online: http://www.youtube.com/user/LaPrensaWeekly 

See a Ingrid Rivera slideshow of the International Festival at:

http://www.flickr.com//photos/[email protected]/sets/72157626940191513/show/


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Copyright © 1989 to 2011 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 06/28/11 13:24:56 -0700.





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