SNPJ Heritage Center Weekend a treat for families

May 31, 2016 - by KATHY PAULENICH (776), SNPJ Heritage Center Committee

Slovenian Ambassador BOŽO CERAR [center] warmly welcomed SNPJ representatives [from left] CATHY KALENITS, KATHY PAULENICH, SUE MALS and ED ROBICH to the Embassy Open House Weekend in Washington, D.C., in May.

BOROUGH OF SNPJ, Pa. — The SNPJ Heritage Center Weekend is around the corner! I hope you have your calendar marked and plan on attending.

The weekend kicks off Friday night, June 10, in the Gostilna with the Mahoning Valley Button Box Club playing your favorite Slovenian tunes from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Come earlier for dinner or appetizers then stay for the polkas and waltzes provided for your dancing pleasure.

Free Family Fun Day will follow on Saturday, June 11, in the lower pavilion from 2 to 8 p.m. Music will be provided by the Frank Stanger Orchestra and Patty C & The Guys. Among the free activities offered for families are swimming, miniature golf, a bouncy house, face painting, scavenger hunt and coloring contest. We encourage parents and grandparents to bring their young ones out to enjoy the day and learn about their heritage.

As a reminder to those living in the Mahoning and Shenango Valley areas of Youngstown, Ohio, and Sharon, Pa., the Simply Slavic Heritage Festival will take place in downtown Youngstown on Saturday, June 18, starting at noon. The SNPJ Heritage Center will be in the marketplace selling various items from our gift shop. We’ll also have a traveling Slovenian heritage display set up in the ethnic tent. There will be Slavic food available to purchase in the big food tent, as well as Slavic music in the entertainment tent.

I hope everyone has made plans to attend Slovenefest July 8-10. If you haven’t already, be sure to make your hotel reservations as soon as possible. The Heritage Center is planning several very interesting mini-talks on the outside patio that Saturday. This is something new for the Heritage Center and we hope it will be well received. You’ll hear from Kollander Travel about trips to Slovenia in 2017 and Wojtila Bakery will tell you all about their goodies, just to name a few. I can’t believe another Slovenefest is upon us! How fast time flies when you’re having fun.

I recently returned from the European Union Embassy Open House Weekend in Washington, D.C. The 28 embassies of the European Union opened their buildings to give a rare look inside. The SNPJ Heritage Center was part of the Slovenian Embassy’s open house on May 14. In attendance were Heritage Center Committee members Ed Robich, Sue Mals and myself, as well as Cathy Kalenits from the SNPJ Recreation Center Committee. We left on Friday to arrive at the embassy late afternoon to unpack our displays. We were met at the door by Ambassador Božo Cerar and his right hand lady, Cultural, Press and Public Diplomacy Officer Nuška Zakrajšek, who was in charge of this event.

The next day brought us back to the embassy bright and early to get organized for the day and enjoy some coffee and pastries before the opening at 10 a.m. We had heard from previous attendees that a large crowd is always expected, but much to our surprise it was reported that a total of 3,500 people came through the embassy in just six hours! We met people who knew all about SNPJ, the Rec Center and Slovenefest, and others who knew a little but wanted more information. There were also people who had heard about Slovenia and asked questions about our heritage.

Many of those in attendance commented on how gracious the embassy was for passing out sausage circles from Cleveland, plus potica, apple strudel and gibinica squares. There was also a pumpkin seed oil tasting. The best part of the day was the wine tasting followed by the Laško beer tasting and ending with the Slovenian vodka tasting. Needless to say, we sampled all of it. There were students on hand from elementary schools in Savinjska Dolina cooking traditional dishes, and we met their parents who accompanied them. Of course, the live Slovenian accordion music provided by Frank, Alex and Kara rocked the place.

We want to thank Miss SNPJ 2016 Julie Rockwell for spending time chatting with us. Julie was one of the volunteers in the childrens’ activity area. We enjoyed hearing about her future plans in medicine and wish her luck. Mom Janice and brother Robbie stopped by to chat before heading to Ambridge, Pa., for a graduation party.

We were tired at the end of the day, but thrilled to be part of this event and, as we all said, make memories. We can’t thank the Slovenian Embassy volunteers enough for making sure we had everything we needed and for checking on us during the day. This was our third year representing the SNPJ Slovenian Heritage Center and I’m sure we will be back. It was a beautiful and sunny weekend in Washington, D.C., compared to the cold and even snowy weather we left behind in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Let’s hope our summer weather is finally kicking in.

The busy season for the SNPJ Heritage Center is just beginning. We have activities planned for Youth Roundup, as well as our usual wine and cheese events for Family Weeks and Senior Week. We hope to see you at the Recreation Center soon!