Homemade ethnic cuisine and the musical stylings of eastern European entertainers were some of the favorites featured Sunday at Serbfest.
St. George Serbian Orthodox Church hosted the event, which offered the city of Joliet and surrounding communities the opportunity to experience the best that Serbian culture. The festival took place between noon and 9 p.m. at St. Joseph’s Park, 700 Theodore Street.
The church’s decision to host the celebration was a result of the community’s attendance at past events, such as fish fries and folklore festivals.
Vicki Petrich-Dorsey, co-chair for Serbfest, said the enthusiasm leading up to the event was fabulous.
“It’s a way for us to share our culture with the community,” she said.
Some of the excitement for the event in Joliet was spread by word of mouth, which attracted attendees from throughout Will County.
Gina Costello, a resident of Plainfield, said she heard about Serbfest at her Romeoville employer. She sat at a table of four people jamming to the orchestral sounds of Veselo Selo.
St. George’s event took place during the same weekend as Serbfest Chicago, and the church said that helped add to the hype.
“The nice thing about the Chicago event is that it is several days long, while ours is just one day, so people are encouraged to make the rounds and take in all of the Serbian cuisine and hospitality they can,” Chris Book, a public relations consultant for the church, said.
Petrich-Dorsey noted that Joliet is a diverse community that has seen a rise in Serbians and other eastern European cultures over the years.
“Joliet tends to be a central place for them,” Petrich-Dorsey said, adding that St. George is also home to other cultures through marriage.
St. George Serbian Orthodox Church is home to a number of Serbians among other cultures through marriage and engagements. While the church has been around since the early 1900s, its social center has been holding events for the public since the ‘60s. She said we are a very open and welcoming congregation.
“As a Serbian, I like to experience other cultures,” she said, noting her fondness for the ethnic dances of Greek, Italian Polish cultures.
Petrich-Dorsey added that she thinks seeing the youth continuing the traditions of their Serbian great grandfathers is equally as beautiful.
“It’s so interesting to see our youth and how proud they are of our Serbian heritage,” she said. “We’ve got multiple generations in our church.”
Children and teens in attendance at Serbfest enjoyed games and prizes.
While some people enjoyed playing Bingo indoors, those outdoors grooved to the tunes of eastern European bands and orchestras.
The event drew in a number of people despite early thunderstorm forecasts. Petrich-Dorsey said the turnout at Serbfest may help determine whether the church will hold the event annually.
Pat Zakavec, a resident of Romeoville, was excited to hear the event may return next year.
“I would come back for the traditional food and music,” she said.