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Serbian Fest brought together all ages

A JOY — Many attending Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Church’s Serbian Festival Saturday in Weirton were entertained by Radost, a band whose name means joy. -- Warren Scott

WEIRTON — Food, music and fellowship brought hundreds of people of all ages together Saturday at the Serbian Picnic Grounds.

The occasion was the Serbian Festival, a more than 50-year tradition of Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Church of Steubenville.

The Rev. Rajko Kosic, the church’s priest, said the event is the church’s largest fundraiser and has drawn as many as 1,000 attendees.

Kosic is a newcomer, having come to the church in October, but he’s become quite aware of its traditions, including the weekly Chicken Blast fundraisers each Wednesday evening in the summer.

While his family helped out at the festival in various ways, Kosic joined others in grilling sausages for the many hungry attendees.

Known as cevapcici — or cevap, the singular form of the word, for short — the sausages were among foods prepared from scratch, including dozens of baked goods, by church members for the event.

Wayne Habovic of Burgettstown, whose wife serves as the church’s secretary, said of the sausages, “I’m not Serbian but I like them so much I came up with my own recipe.”

Habovic explained most are made with equal portions of lamb, beef and pork, but he usually uses smaller portions of lamb, partly because it can be more difficult to find.

He said the meat is not as important as the spices used and Kosic brought with him a seasoning that proved quite popular.

Former Weirton resident Bob Marovich said the sausages are among things he looks forward to when he returns to the festival from Las Vegas, where he moved in 1976.

“This will always be my home. I love Weirton,” said Marovich, who said through the years, he often has been joined at the festival by his sister, who now resides in Maryland; and this year the family reunion includes his niece and her family, who traveled from Shepherdstown, W.Va.

The event brought back many memories for Marovich, who once played in nearby Kings Creek and served as an altar boy at the church.

One who has many memories of the festival is Mary Drazich of Weirton, a long-time member of the church.

Drazich said she and her family were living in Cadiz when they attended the church at its first location in Mingo Junction, then followed it to Steubenville in 1948.

She met her future husband of 63 years, Nick, when her sister was married at the church, and recalled time spent at the festival when they were young adults.

Drazich said she was present each festival but one, when she was visiting family in Yugoslavia, and sold tickets for the food at many of them.

“And I’m still selling tickets all these years later,” she said.

One of seven children in her family, Drazich said her siblings have come from Columbus, Tennessee and Florida to attend the festival.

She said it’s quite common for families to reunite at the festival.

“They get in touch with each other and say, I’ll see you at the picnic,” Drazich said.

But the event also attracts many from outside the church who come to sample kielbasi and sauerkraut and pierogies while listening to traditional folk music.

Among those this year was Francis Langley, a student at the Franciscan University of Steubenville who grew up in Japan.

“It’s cool. Just to experience Serbian food is something new to me,” said Langley, who gave high marks to the cabbage and noodles.”

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