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Macedonian Festival is entertaining and educational

Children from Sts. Cyril and Methody Church have performed at the festival with the dance group, Makedonsko Sonce, which translates to Macedonian Sun.
The smell of kebabs cooking over a hot pit and Macedonian music will fill the air in Blasdell next weekend.

The 22nd annual Macedonian Festival will be held Friday, July 13 through Sunday, July 15 at Sts. Cyril and Methody Macedonian Orthodox Church in Blasdell. Highlights of the three-day celebration include authentic food, music and dancing.

“It started off 22 years ago as a fundraiser and as a way to bring the Macedonian community together,” said Suzanne Mitskovski, festival committee member and secretary for the church. Now, the event draws in Macedonians from Rochester, Syracuse, Toronto and Ohio.

“It’s one of the largest Macedonian festivals in North America,” Mitskovski said.

For those unfamiliar with Macedonian culture, Mitskovski said it is similar to that of Greece, which is Macedonia’s southern neighbor.

“We have very similar food, very similar music,” said Mitskovski, though she clarified that despite many commonalities, they are not the same. “The language is different. We are a different people,” she said.

One of the festival’s main attractions for Macedonians and non-Macedonians alike is the authentic menu.

“A lot of people really come for the food,” Mitskovski said. “ It’s all open pit, all fresh and all handmade.”

Meal options include kebabs, shish-kebabs, roasted lamb and cabbage rolls, and range from $8 to $12 per plate. Each meal comes with rice, potatoes, bread and salad. The menu also offers sandwiches, as well as traditional handmade pastries and streusels.

“They get a good value. People go home with take-out containers because their plates are fairly loaded,” Mitskovski said.

If the food is what draws the crowd, then the music and dancing is what makes them stay. This year dancing troupes from Ontario and Toronto are slated to perform at the festival.

“They do a good job with keeping the youth engaged,” Mitskovski said of the performers.

The festival will also feature carnival games, games of chance and a concessions stand. There will be cultural exhibits in the church hall, taking visitors through the history of Macedonia.

“We will have a lot of things on display like the traditional costumes and items that reflect the art and culture of the region,” said Mitskovski.

Western New York enjoys its festivals, Mitskovski noted, adding this is a perfect way to enjoy something new.

“It’s an opportunity to experience a different culture and learn about a community in your own backyard,” she said. “We’re welcoming. Everyone can feel Macedonian for a weekend.”
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