Slovenian Kurentovanje Festival Is Back to Try to Chase Away the Winter

Sat 3/2 @ 10AM-6PM

Cleveland’s Kurentovanje festival, taking place in the Superior/St. Clair neighborhood, is now seven years old, and in that time has grown from a single-day event to a week’s worth of activities. But it still revolves around the concluding festival, a family-friendly event that opens with a short parade, moving to the National Slovenian Home on St. Clair for an afternoon of food, drink, music, vendors, art, bocce and kids’ activities.

What’s it all about? It’s based on a festival that draws tens of thousands of people each year to the northern Slovenian village of Ptuj. It features furry, bell-ringing “kurents,” whose job is to scare winter away and herald the coming spring.

The number of people who don kurent suits in Cleveland has increased annually, making it easier to accommodate all the people who want selfies with them! And while the festival revolves around the National Slovenian home and centers Slovenian culture, in the formerly Slovenian neighborhood, attendees (and parade participants) represent a variety of races, ethnicities and cultures. (Dragon dancers from AsiaTown and the all-black marching band from nearby St. Martin de Porres High School, where the parade kicks off, are always marchers).

The big day — Saturday — opens this year with a Kurent 5K dash at 10am. Register here, all ye hardy early risers. Registration onsite begins at 9am.  At the same time, the doors of the National Slovenian Home open, with food and drink available, vendors open for shopping and the continuation of the bocce tournament which began the previous evening. Kids can get themselves festively decked out for the parade, with face painting and crafting paper spring flowers.

At noon, head outside for the parade (the weather it’s predicted will be cold but not frigid and this parade has marched through some big blizzards!), which steps off at noon from the St. Martin de Porres gym. Polka bands and marching bands, ethnic dance groups, local businesses and community organizations, and of course, the costumed kurents, make up the marchers.

Once inside the National Slovenian Home again, there will be plenty of drinking and eating (heavy on Eastern European-style eats), kids’ craft activities, ice carving demos, vendors selling crafts, foods and other homemade/handmade items, and performances on several stages, which generally ranged from polka to rock bands to folk dance ensembles.

All Kurentovanje Day activities are free.

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