Russian Festival in Mogadore, OH
On October 2 I, along with a group of eight other College of Wooster Russian students and our professor John Lyles drove to the Something Russian festival in nearby Mogadore, Ohio to experience Russian culture in a local setting. The festival was held in and around Mogadore’s St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, a lovely modern church topped with iconic golden cupolas and filled with flickering candles, stained glass windows, and carefully painted icons. It was the first Orthodox church I had seen outside of textbooks and photos on the internet, and it was even more beautiful than I had imagined.
Equally beautiful were the range of hand-made and imported crafts available to buy in the main area of the recreation center. There were matryoshkas (Russian nesting dolls) of all shapes and sizes, brightly colored Ukrainian Easter eggs, jewelry, icons, toys, enameled teapots, and children’s books. I bought a sweet-faced matryoshka for myself, just a tiny bit larger than the palm of my hand, and one of my friends bought matching matryoshka earrings. After looking through the venders’ area we decided it was time to eat. The buffet offered an array of food: breaded chicken kiev, potato and onion pierogies, kielbasa sausage, bread and butter, cabbage rolls, and small fruit pastries known as blini. Sadly they were out of borsch, a Russian student’s worst nightmare. I had the chicken kiev with a side of pierogies, both of which were delicious. The shop outside the cafeteria sold bread, squat gingerbread cookies, and sachets of fragrant tea.
Later we washed down our dinner with piping-hot imported Russian tea in a lavishly decorated room. We shared two pots between seven people, one of spicy black tea and the other of a strong citrus and liquorice green tea. Our waitress, a friendly, animated woman, was pleased to hear we were university students who spoke Russian and even gave us extra dessert on the house. We sat and drank our tea out of heavy glass tumblers and listened to some of the older students tell stories about their time abroad in Moscow and Saint Petersburg.
The two main scheduled events were the folk dances and balalaika orchestra, both held in a high-ceilinged tent next to the church. The folk dancers were dressed in traditional costumes: red dresses and beaded headdresses for the women and loose-fitting shirts and black trousers for the men. Children danced along with their parents and older siblings in a mix of group and pairs dances from across Russia’s regions and time periods. The balalaika orchestra came next, dressed all in black with balalaikas ranging from violin-sized to a few giants that were so large their players had to stand to hold them. They played folk songs, arias, and even an operatic piece from Don Cossack accompanied by a man from Wooster’s own Ohio Light Opera.
We left the festival full of good food and high spirits, having seen and met some extraordinary people and experienced many parts of Russian culture that we had only read about, or in some cases had never known about at all. It was a great learning experience, but also a chance to get out, meet new people, and most importantly have fun!
Every Thursday, 7 pm, in Luce Hall, Suite D. Join Vitaly and other Russian students for this opportunity to speak Russian, learn about Russian culture, play games, and more.
Every Tuesday in Lowry 250/251. Times alternate every week between noon and 1 pm. Check the schedule to see what time lunch will be this week.
Every Tuesday, 7 pm, in Luce Hall, Suite D. Join Vitaly and other Russian students and watch some of Russia's latest films, as well as some of the classics.