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Chase winter away at Slovenian Kurentovanje celebration

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If you and your kids are getting tired of this cold, grey Cleveland winter (and who isn’t?), then you won’t want to miss Cleveland’s second annual Slovenian Kurentovanje (that’s pronounced “koo-rahn-toh-VAHN-yay”) winter festival, to be held on March 1 on St. Clair Avenue between East 62nd and Addison Road. Admission to the event is free.

The Kurentovanje, a traditional Slovenian winter carnival which has been celebrated in Slovenia for the past 50 years, features a parade, Slovenian ethnic food, crafts for kids and other activities. The real purpose of this festival is to have fun, and chase away winter. http://clevelandkurentovanje.com

The real star of the festival, however, is a large fuzzy imaginary creature called a Kurent, which is believed to have super powers enabling it to help winter make its exit, and usher in spring. (To read more about the Kurent, go to http://www.slovenia.si/culture/tradition/kurents/ .)

This year the festival will feature ten Kurents, who will march in the parade. The costumes of the Kurents were purchased directly from Slovenia.

The Kurents will appear in the parade along with marching bands from local schools, dance and other groups in traditional costume, as well as floats from local businesses. Kids are welcome to come and paint their faces and join in the parade. The parade, a traditional part of a Slovenian Kurentvanje, starts at noon at St. Vitus Church, located at 6109 Lausche Ave. http://www.saintvitus.org Visitors are not only invited but encouraged to dress in costume of any kind to join in the celebration.

After the parade, attendees can eat, drink and party at Slovenian National Home from 1-6 p.m., located at 6417 St. Clair Ave. http://www.slovenianhome.com There, visitors can sample foods, wines, beers, music and dance which are native to Slovenia. Attendees can also explore the nearby Slovenian Museum and Archives, as well as the many local storefront businesses which will offer samples of Slovenian food, spirits and music.

And that’s not the end of the fun surrounding this exciting event by any means! From 6 p.m. until midnight, when the Kurentovanje comes to an end, an after party will be held at Sterle’s Country House, 1401 East 55th. http://sterlescountryhouse.com Guests who go to Sterle’s will be able to enjoy schnitzel, polka, and a shot or two of slivovitz – a plum brandy which is a Slovenian favorite. Attendees should note that Sterle’s Bier Garden will be open throughout the day.

Cleveland’s Kurentovanje is made possible and is run by a volunteer steering committee and in-kind donations from businesses and organizations. The festival’s non-profit fiscal agent is the St. Clair Superior Development Corporation, http://www.stclairsuperior.org, and they accept donations of all kinds.

If you need more information, please contact Michael Fleming of the St. Clair Superior Development Corporation, at telephone 216-881-0644, extension 103.

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