Volume No. 16 Issue No. 11 November 2019  

  East meets West in Calhan

     Eastern European dress and Western American cowboy hats met at the Seventeenth Annual Slavic Fest held Oct. 12 and 13 at St. Mary's Orthodox Church in Calhan.
   In the late 1800s and early 1900s, many immigrants from Eastern Europe came to the Calhan area. The transcontinental railroad provided easy transportation from the Eastern seaboard. The immigrants were lured by scenery similar to what they were familiar with in their homeland, where many were farmers and ranchers. Also, the Homestead Act promised clear title to 160 acres. Many of their descendants still live in the area, working the same land for three or four generations.
   Every year, they gather to celebrate their rich heritage with food, music and cultural features. The menu consisted of hefty Slavic dishes such as halupki (stuffed cabbage), kapusta (potato noodles), pierogi (stuffed boiled dumplings) and bandurtky and matchanka (potatoes and gravy). For those with a sweet tooth, there was a table loaded with mouth-watering homemade pastries such as poppy seed bread, cherry rings, triple fudge cake and strudel. Alan Polivka, of Czech descent, played the accordion and was accompanied by Richard Clark on drums. When asked to play a polka, Polivka said polka is in his name, just remove the “iv.”
   Items connected with Eastern European culture, some handmade — like crosses, jewelry, icons, toys and Christmas decorations — were for sale. Tours were offered at St. Tikhon's Chapel, the site of the original “Church on the Hill,” which has no electricity and is used only on special occasions. Many of the early settlers are buried in the adjoining cemetery. There were also tours of the newer church at the bottom of the hill.
   Father Stephen Osburn, rector of St. Mary’s, expected 90 people for the weekend event. However, he said he had hoped for 1,000.
Slavic fest baked goods: Jennifer Tressler presides over a table of homemade jellies and jams and homemade pastries such as nut bread, cinnamon rolls and cherry rings — all for sale at St. Mary's Orthodox Church Slavic FestRichard Clark, left, on drums, and accordion player Alan Polivka provided polkas and other traditional music for the Slavic Fest held at St. Mary's Orthodox Church in Calhan in October.
Eastern Europe and western United States cultures come together with Ryleigh Tunink, left, in traditional Eastern European dress, and Trevor Hendrix, in cowboy garb, at the Slavic Fest.Father Stephen Osburn, rector of St. Mary's Orthodox Church in Calhan, represented the West at the Slavic fest, with his cowboy hat.
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