WOONSOCKET — Authentic mititei (grilled Romanian sausage), fresh baklava and traditional Romanian and Macedonian folk dance will highlight the Romanian and Macedonian American annual Festival, a two-day festival to be held Saturday and Sunday at St. John the Baptist Romanian Orthodox Church on East School Street.
The festival will be held Saturday, July 20, from 4 to 11 p.m., and Sunday, July 21, from 12:30 to 7 p.m. Admission is free.
Tents will be set up so the festival will be held rain or shine. Off-street parking is also available. All proceeds from the event will benefit the maintenance of the church.
One of the biggest Romanian festivals of its kind in Northern Rhode Island, the festival grounds at 501 East School St. will be teeming with activity, including ethnic and American music and dancing.
The St. John the Baptist Romanian Orthodox Church is a parish under the jurisdiction of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America.
“This festival has been held for many decades and is one of our church’s biggest and most important annual fundraisers with all proceeds going towards the maintenance of the church,” said Nicholas Gassey, president of the parish council. “The festival has been growing every year thanks to the generosity of the Greater Woonsocket community. Not only does the festival allow the greater Romanian community to come together, but it’s also a chance to socialize and share our culture with members of the greater Woonsocket community who have been such loyal supporters.”
The other parish council members include Georgeta Gassey, George Trutza, Flavian Iovanel, Joanne Ryan, Pintea Luti, Ileana Place, Addriane Harrison, Ioana Babina and Flori Nelson.
There will be plenty of traditional homemade Romanian and Mediterranean foods prepared by parish chefs available over the festival weekend, including lamb and chicken shish-kebab, mititei (grilled Romanian sausage with a mixture of beef and lamb), sarmale (stuffed cabbage rolls), home-baked ethnic pastries and sweets, cozonac (sweet bread), spinach and cheese pita ,and, of course, baklava.
There will also be Romanian wine and cold bottles of Timisoreana, a Euro Pale Lager-style beer brewed in Romania. Festival organizers were able to secure 24 cases of this hard-to-find beer from a distributor in New York.
The Timisoareana brewery was founded in Timisoara in 1718, and it has a tradition of almost 300 years. The beer is prepared using traditional recipes by master brewers.
All of the meats for the festival are purchased locally at Shaw’s Meat Market in Woonsocket and will be marinated on skewers for two days before they are grilled by grill masters George Trutza, his sons, Jack and Max, and Mihai Vancea.
A highlight of the festival is the wide assortment of delicious pastries made by the women of the church. Offerings will include baklava (fillo pastry) and assorted cookies, to name a few. The baking of the pastries and cooking of the sarmarle was coordinated by Psa. Anca Morar, the wife of Rev. Onisie Morar, pastor of St. John Baptist Romanian Orthodox Church, and Georgeta Gassey, Adriana Jordache and her parents, Constanta and Cosel Dragomir, Ileana Place, Adriana Zamfir, Ela Rati, and Rev. Morar.
All the preparation, planning, baking and cooking for the popular festival begins weeks in advance by a core group of parishioners who volunteer each year to cook and bake for the festival.
There will also be plenty of games and activities for children of all ages, as well as raffles, church tours and souvenirs from Romania.
The disc jockey for the two-day festival is Ovidiu Babu, and Dave Richards of WOON Radio is scheduled to do a remote broadcast from the festival site on Saturday.
St. John the Baptist Romanian Orthodox Church is known for its beautifully detailed stained glass windows, which was a special project initiated by Ladies Auxiliary and personally supervised by various members. Parishioners in 1970 donated individual windows to complete the entire set presently visible in the church.
Rev. Morar left Romania in 1991 to establish a church in Pennsylvania before coming to Woonsocket in 1995 to lead the 70-member parish at St. John Baptist Romanian Orthodox Church, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2012.
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