Folking Around

Labor Day Weekend = start of the fall festival season.  Let the games begin….    

On Saturday I went to a local folk festival with my sister.  We both love outdoor festivals, especially ones with live music, good food, and interesting people.  There are a lot of heritage festivals here in Western PA.  Irish, German, Italian, Polish, and so on.  Mix it all together and you have a Folk Fest – those are the most fun.    

There was just one problem this time… one big problem.  We didn’t get there until 8 p.m. By that time, most of the folk dancers were gone and the festival had the atmosphere of a beer-drinking street party.  Just our luck.    

We wanted to see a Celtic rock band.   


Instead, we got a  crowd of beer-drinkers wearing tee-shirts that read I Got Folked Up.  If you’ve ever wondered what a folk festival after party looks like…well, now ya know.   



Despite the crowd, we still had a great time.  I say despite the crowd because there were some strange looking people there.  At one point we could have sworn that we saw two different men somewhere in the middle of a transition from human to werewolf.  Not like Eclipse.  Ever see the 1985 movie Teen Wolf?  Or maybe the ’87 sequel Teen Wolf Too?  Well, it was something like that.  I tried to snap a photo but it was too dark – those man-wolves are evasive.    

The setting of this festival is on a street in a working man’s part of town.  You know the kind – with a tavern on every corner and a church on every block.  In this part of the country, European immigrants arrived in large numbers between 1800 and 1920.  They worked in the mills and settled together in their own neighborhoods, each with their own grocers, taverns, social clubs, and churches.  Life was hard, but the possibilities that America offered were endless.    

Most of us don’t have a clue how our ancestors got here.  Today, we tend to think of ourselves as American.  We rarely associate with our ethnic roots, even if we can even trace them back.  For me and my siblings, we know that we are Hungarian.  My grandma made foods like pierogi, halupki, haluski, and goulash; and she danced to what she called gypsy music.  Knowing about my ethnicity explains a lot about my family’s beliefs and traditions.  I’m glad some of those were passed along to me, but don’t ask me to dance like a gypsy.

My Grandma's Hungarian Catholic Church, c. 1905

Does your heritage intrigue you?  Does your family have any interesting traditions?

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Renee on September 6, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    Absolutely – I love being a baker’s dozen … a mutt, so to speak. I believe that’s what makes me unique. Can’t say we have many/any family traditions. They all stem from our location vice our heritage … like the need to have pork, kielbasa, sauerkraut, and mashed potatoes every New Year’s Day … which, by the way, is my birthday. I no longer eat pork products, but my family still carries the tradition. 🙂


  2. Family traditions…hmmm…they all revolve around Christmas it seems. Anyway, your title made me laugh b/c about a week ago we were talking/taking jabs at the Folk Festival and kept trying to find ways to use ‘folk’ as the f word in odd ways.


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