VILLAGE FOR KIDS



     The 13th annual Village for Kids will be Monday, Aug. 8 from 12-4 p.m. at the Lions Band Shell and ballfield in Renziehausen Park. This is a free event. Adult supervision is recommended for children younger than 6.
    Festivities will include food, a photo booth, crafts, games, music, inflatable rides, and a Meet and Greet with Sonic the Hedgehog. A Prince and Princess will be crowned at 2:30 p.m.; they must be there to win. Each will receive a 20-inch bike and a helmet donated by the McKeesport Trail Commission, which will be presented at International Village Tuesday, Aug. 9 at 8 p.m.
     Following is the agenda:

NOON - 4 p.m.
     DJ at the bandshell
   Food Gallery (Freeze pops, hot dogs, chips, cookies, drinks, fruit snacks; nachos and pop will be available to purchase from the Kiwanis Club) 
     Activity Zone by Family Tent Rental
     Screenings, information, crafts, game tables, activities, fingerprinting by police, fire smokehouse
     Photo Booth Tent
NOON - 2 p.m.
    Registration table for "A Village Kids" Day Prince and Princess. Children 12 and younger are eligible.
1-2 p.m. AT THE STAGE
     Meet and Greet with Sonic the Hedgehog (made possible by P.G.H. Party Creations)
2:30 p.m. AT THE STAGE
     Announcements/Pictures
     Crowing of the Prince and Princess
 

The following groups are part of this year's Village for Kids: 
​Mayor Mike Cherepko (hot dog and chip booth)

Nuttall Public Safety Equipment LLC
Altrusa International of McKeesport
Mon Valley Independent
Goodwill of Southwestern PA
PA American Water
UPMC for You Dental
Human Services Center Corp.
McKeesport Area School District
McKeesport Police Department
McKeesport Fire Department
McKeesport Area Rescue Services

City of McKeesport
State Senator Jim Brewster’s Office
McKeesport/White Oak Kiwanis
TCV Community Services
Latterman Family Health Center
Allegheny County Health Department Dental Program
Faith Lutheran Church
Penn State Greater Allegheny
McKeesport Family Center
State Representative Austin Davis
Familylinks
McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center 
Carnegie Library of McKeesport
Auberle SNAP
St. John’s Lutheran Church-North Versailles

McKeesport Lions Club

Fund My Future PGH

McKeesport Area High School Cheerleaders

Office of Family Child Health - Allegheny County Health Department

Office of Chronic Disease - Allegheny County Health Department

Fun Faces by Michele

UPMC Centers for Rehab Services

Trulieve

LaRosa Youth Club

Mon Yough Community Services

The FAAP Dancers performed a variety of traditional dances of the Philippines. One of the popular dances is tinikling, right photo, which involves dancers masterfully manuevering between and over two bamboo polls being hit together.

The Continental Dukes played a wide variety of traditional songs on the Main Stage. The crowd was encouraged to sing along when they knew the tunes.

Lebanese belly dancers entertained the crowd to round out the opening night entertainment.

The Village crowd was treated to an enjoyable performance by the Rankin Junior Tamburitizans, who performed numerous traditional Croatian songs and dances.

August 11, 2022

Village-goers took advantage of the last chance to get their favorite foods.

Local Kolo dancers performed several dances and encouraged folks to join in the Kolo party Wednesday night under the Blue Top Pavilion.

Gypsy Stringz, above, kicked off the Main Stage entertainment. At right, Sen. James Brewster congratulates Isaac Johnson, left, and Paige Price, who were crowned Prince and Princess at Village for Kids on Aug. 9.

Crowd enjoys food, entertainment on final night of Village 

Apple dumplings are always popular at the McKeesport Area Shared Ministry UMC, Beulah Park Campus booth.

Alpen Muzikanten kicked off the Main Stage entertainment Wednesday night at the festival.

The Mikey Dee Tamburitzans, left photo, performed at the Jakomas Blue Top Pavilion, playing a variety of songs as part of Kolo Night. Dancers took advantage of the opportunity to show off their kolo skills throughout the evening.

The Nu-Tones, above, hosted a polka night under the Jakomas Blue Top Pavilion. At right, master of ceremonies Mikey Dee, left, and stage manager Patrick Fisher entertain the crowd between performances.

     Stephen Barry Field in Renziehausen Park is quiet. There is no music and dancing, the aroma of mouth-watering ethnic food is gone, and the annual reunion of friends is over until next year.

     The 62nd International Village closed Thursday evening with food booths selling out of their fare, and dancers and musicians giving their all. The event that started as part of Old Home Week in McKeesport in 1960 has evolved into an annual gathering of friends and family who enjoy their favorite ethnic food while listening to the music they may have heard while growing up. Some folks remember dancing with one of the many groups that have graced the Village stage and others have been attending since that first event in 1960. Whatever their memories, they always share them with a smile and a sparkle in their eyes. The Village has been - and continues to be - an important part of their lives.

     One visitor that seems to make an appearance at least once during the three-day festival was absent this year. Mother Nature was very cooperative, keeping rain away and allowing the temperatures to be comfortable as people strolled the festival grounds. Although fireworks scheduled for Tuesday were postponed until Wednesday because of the possibility of rain, this year marked a rain-free Village.

     Patrick Fisher, stage manager for the festival, was grateful the weather cooperated. "I was scared with the threat of rain opening night but it didn't come. Thank you to everyone who showed up Wednesday for the fireworks and we had a very good turnout for our final night. Thanks to the committee and the mayor, we had another successful year."     

     Entertainment Coordinator and MC Mikey Dee was "pleasantly surprised" with this year's Village. "It was very hard to get entertainment this year so I had very low expectations. But it turned out to be a great year and we will use that to build an even better event next year."

     One of the highlights of the last night of the festival is the awarding of the Casturo Family Awards, a tradition that started 30 years ago to help two students with the post-high school education. This year's recipient of $500 is Alex Hern, a McKeesport High School graduate who will be attending the University of Akron. Receiving $250 is Tina Wos, a McKeesport High School graduate who will be attending Slippery Rock University. The winners were selected in a random drawing on the Main Stage Thursday evening. 

Story and photos by Carol Waterloo Frazier 

The Grecian Odyssey Dancers took Village-goers on a tour of that country via traditional dances.

62nd Village kicks off with food, entertainment 

After getting their favorite ethnic food, people made their way to the Main Stage area to enjoy traditional songs and dances. 

     Folks gathered at Stephen Barry Field in Renziehausen Field to enjoy the second night of International Village, the ethnic food and entertainment festival that has been a McKeesport tradition for 62 years.

     There is one more chance to get your favorite foods and watch traditional dances from around the world when the gates open for the final night of the Village Aug. 11 at 3 p.m. There is a $2 donation for admission. Free parking is available throughout the park and handicapped parking is available in the lot behind the Jakomas Blue Top Pavilion.

     Students still have a chance to apply for one of two Casturo Education Awards. Applications are available at the Carnegie Library of McKeesport booth across from the Blue Top Pavilion. Two awards - one for $500 and one for $250 - will be announced in a random drawing Thursday night. Recipients do not have to be present to win.

     Not only is the food plentiful and entertainment wonderful, there is face painting and inflatables for children and numerous information booths. There is a used book sale at the library booth, a chance to join the McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center and purchase a variety of items at that booth, an opportunity to talk with folks from the U.S. Army, and T-shirts and sweatshirts to purchase to support the McKeesport K-9 unit. 

     The final night of entertainment on the Main Stage features the Continental Dukes at 6 p.m.; FAAP Dancers (Phillipines) at 7 p.m., and Christ Temple AME (Ghana) at 8 p.m. It will be Variety Night under the Blue Top with the Del Sinchak Band.

McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko welcomed folks to the 62nd annual International Village while city, county and state officials look on.

Postponed from Tuesday night, the spectacular fireworks display was well worth the delay. The 10-minute show has become a Village tradition.

INTERNATIONAL

VILLAGE 2022
This site will offer information about the annual ethnic food and entertainment festival Aug. 9-11 at Renziehausen Park in McKeesport. Stories and photos will be posted of the event. If you have memories of International Village, send them to mvhappenings@gmail.com for possible posting on the site. 

ENTERTAINMENT

Entertainment from around the world will be presented each day at two locations. Each night there will be entertainment under the Jakomas Blue Top Pavilion from 5-9 p.m. and several groups performing nightly on the Main Stage beginning at 6 p.m. Fireworks are planned Tuesday night. Entertainment coordinator is Mikey Dee.


TUESDAY
MAIN STAGE
Gypsy Stringz - 6 p.m.

Grecian Odyssey Dancers - 7:30 p.m.
Introduction of City Officials - 8 p.m.

Local Kolo Dancers - 8:15 p.m.

Lebanese Belly Dancer - 8:45 p.m.

Fireworks (weather permitting)
BLUE TOP
Polka Night with the Nu-Tones


WEDNESDAY
MAIN STAGE

Alpen Muzikanten - 6 p.m.
ABC by JoAnn (Hawaiian) - 6:45 p.m.
Rankin Junior Tamburitzans (Croatian) - 7:30 p.m.
BLUE TOP
Kolo Night with the Mikey Dee Tamburitzans
 
THURSDAY
MAIN STAGE
Continental Dukes - 6 p.m.

FAAP Dancers (Phillipines) - 7 p.m.
Christ Temple AME (Ghana) - 8 p.m.
BLUE TOP
Variety Night with the Del Sinchak Band

The Del Sinchak Band performed under the Jakomas Blue Top Pavilion. 

There was a continuous line at the Polish booth as folks were eager to enjoy pierogis, haluski and other favorites.

Fireworks, food, entertainment shine at second night of Village

Folks were eager to savor their favorite Croatian food during opening night of the three-day festival.

OVERVIEW

     An event 63 years ago celebrating the rich ethnic heritage of McKeesport​ has evolved into a three-day festival of food and entertainment that continues to pay tribute to the city's melting pot of traditions.     
   This year's International Village is Aug. 9-11 from 3-9 p.m. at Stephen Barry Field in McKeesport’s Renziehausen Park along Eden Park Boulevard. Admission is a $2 donation.
   Traditional ethnic food and entertainment has been a mainstay of the festival since its beginning as part of McKeesport’s Old Home Week in 1960. That tradition continues this year when 17 nationalities will share their heritage with Village-goers.
    Ethnic entertainment will again be featured each day under the Blue Top and on the Main Stage (See Schedule Below). Although the number of groups taking part this year on the Main Stage are down from past years because of limited rehearsal time, the groups that will perform each night are sure to impress Village-goers. 
   The parking lot adjacent to the Blue Top Pavilion (Gate 4) is handicapped parking ONLY. Free parking is available at designated areas in Renzie Park for the festival. 
     Seating will be available under the Blue Top Pavilion and behind the food booths near Gate 3. Chairs will be set up around the main stage for watching the entertainment.    

Mon Valley Happenings

Workers in the Vietnamese booth are busy making sure there was plenty of chicken ready for hungry customers.

August 9, 2022

ABC by JoAnn entertained the second-night Village crowd with a variety of dances that took folks to the Hawaiian islands.

After enjoying their favorite ethnic food, folks made their way to the Main Stage seating area to watch the evening's entertainment.

welcome

MENUS

     For many people who attend International Village, the food is the main attraction. This year, 17 nationalities will offer some of their traditional food to this year's festival-goers. 
AUSTRIA

    Funnel Cakes with fruit or chocolate - $8

    Lemonade - $4 small, $6 large

    Corn Dogs - $5

    Soft Jumbo Pretzel - $5

    Apple Strudel - $4

CROATIAN

   Sarma (stuffed cabbage)

   Kielbasa with sauerkraut

   Hot Dogs

   Sauerkraut & Bean Soup

   Pirogis

   Haluski

   Croatian potato salad (with oil and vinegar)

   Palacinka (crepe with apricot, rasberry or cheese filling)

   Medenjaci (honey cake)
EGYPTIAN

   Chicken Shawarma Sandwich - $9

   Falafel Sandwich - $7

   Lamb Pie - $6

   Spinach with Feta Pie - $6

   Stuffed Grape Leaves - 4 for $5

   Hummous Dip - $6

   Baba Gannouj Dip - $6

   Tabbouleh Salad - $6

   Baklava - $4/square

   Chocolate Covered Almond Roll - $3

   Lemonade - $3 small, $6 large

   Coffee - $2

FRANCE: Menu not available

GERMANY

    Sauerkraut Balls

    German Pretzels

    Haluska

    Bratwurst

    Pierogies

    Potato Pancakes

    Cabbage Rolls

    Knockwurst

    German Sausage

    German Schnizel

    Lemonade
GHANA (African American)

   Southern Fried Wing Dinner - $16

   Barbecue Rib Dinner - $18

   Slab - $27; half slab - $17

   Barbecue Pigs Feet - $11

   Southern Fried Chicken Wings - 6 for $12

   Barbecue Sandwich - $12

   (Two sides with every dinner)

   Sides by the Bowl:

   Southern Tenders (collard greens) - $5

   Red Rice - $5

   Hoppin Johns (red beans and rice) - $5

   Corn Bread or White Bread - $2

   Desserts:

   Sweet Potato Pie - $12 whole, $4 by the slice

GREEK

   Gyro with homemade sauce - $10

   Lamb Souvlaki - $12

   Mousaka - $9

   Pastitsio - $9

   Stuffed Peppers - $9

   Strifto - $6

   Cheese Strifto - $6

   Spanakopeta - $5

   Dolmades - $1.50

   Pastries:

   Baklava - $7

   Apple, Peach or Blueberry Pita - $4

   Koulourakia - $9 per dozen

   Kourambiethes - $7 for 6

   Melomakarone - $7 for 6

   Ipirotiko - $7

   Bougatsa - $6

   Galactobureko - $6

   Coconut Macaroons - $9 for 6

   Petit Fours - $13

   Nut Horns - $11 per dozen

   Ladylocks - $12 per dozen

   Honeyballs - $5 for 7

HAWAIIAN - Menu Not Available

HUNGARIAN 

    Toltott Kaposzta (stuffed cabbage)

    Lesco (Hungarian Pepper Stew)

    Langos (Fried Dough)

    Paprikash Csirke (Chicken Paprikash)
ITALIAN 

    Stuffed Banana Peppers

    Gnocchi

    Meat Balls

    Italian Beef

​    Italian Provolone Wheel
LEBANESE

   Gyro Sandwich - $9

   Falafel Sandwich - $7

   Baked Kibbee - $6

   Stuffed Grapeleaves - 4 for $5

   Spinach Pie - $6

   Spinach Pie with Feta - $6

   Meat Pie - $6

   Hummous Dip - $6

   Baba Gannouj Dip - $6

   Tabbouleh Salad - $6

   Baklava - $4 per square

   Apricot Roll - $3

   Lemonade - $3 small, $6 large

   Coffee - $2

MEXICO

    Smoked Chicken Nachos

    Pork Barbecue Tacos

    Chicken Quesadillas

    Churros

PHILIPPINES

    Main:

    Lumpiang shanghai (spring roll) - 7 pieces $5

    Lumpiang gulay (vegetable spring roll) - $3, 2 for $5

    Empanada de Manila (chicken turnover) - $3, 2 for $5

    Inihaw na Manok (grilled chicken) - $8

    Pancit Bihon (stir fried noodles) - $7

    Adobo Rice Bowl (braised chicken on rice) - $8

    Kanin (rice) - $2

    Combo: Inihaw na Manok, Pancit, Lumpiang shanghai (3 pieces) - $15

    Rice Bowl Specials of the Day:

    Day 1 - Lechon Kawali (deep fried pork belly) - $10

    Day 2 - Caldereta (beef stew) - $10

    Day 3 - Arroz a la Filiniana (pork, beef stir fry with fried banana and fried egg) - $10

    Dessert:

    Turon (fried banana Wrap) - $3, 2 for $5

    Leche Flan - $3

    Biko (rice cake) - $3

    Puto (rice cake) - $3, 2 for $5

    Drinks:

    Melon Juice (canteloupe drink) - $2

    Calamansi Juice with Honey (Filipino lemonade) - $2

POLAND

    Pierogies - feta spinach, potato cheese, crab, jalapeno potato cheese, sweet cabbage, lekvar, sauerkraut

    Stuffed Cabbage

    Kielbasa

    Haluski
SWEDISH

   Apple dumplings
TAIWAN

    Teriyaki Chicken Skewer - $12; with rice and noodle, $17

    Shrimp rice and noodle - $15

    Vegetable Rice and Noodle - $7

    Egg Roll - $4

    General Tso Chicken and Rice - $15

    Orange Chicken and Rice - $15

    Lemonade - $7 for large

    Strawberry Lemonade - $9 for large

VIETNAMESE

   Teriyaki Chicken-on-a-Stick - $12; with rice and noodle, $17

   Vegetable Rice and Noodle - $7

   Shrimp Rice and Noodle - $15

   Egg Roll - $4

   Lemonade - $7 for large

   Strawberry Lemonade - $9 for large

Photos and story by Carol Waterloo Frazier

People didn't mind waiting in line for their favorite ethnic food, including at the Italian booth.

Ice cream is always a hit at the McKeesport Lions Club booth.

A large crowd attended the second night of the ethnic food and entertainment festival. Many folks sat and watched the entertainment on the Main Stage.

People can sign up for memberships or purchase various items at the McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center booth.

August 10, 2022

HISTORY


​​     International Village got its start as part of McKeesport’s Old Home Week in 1960, a 10-day event that celebrated the city’s rich history and ethnic diversity.
     The event helped mark the city’s “165 years of Dynamic Progress,” according to a letter from then Mayor Andrew J. Jakomas in an official publication for the occasion. Describing the festival, the publication said it was “an event which will manifest the diverse heritages of the Citizens of McKeesport.”     
     During Old Home Week, Market Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues was closed and transformed into an International Village with 10 decorated booths manned by folks who made McKeesport home after arriving from their homelands. They served traditional food and displayed original handicrafts.
     Not only was there food and handmade items, musical performances were given by each of the nationality groups. Dances were performed in authentic costumes and national songs were sung and played on traditional instruments.
     According to the mayor’s letter, “We anticipate that this colorful event will attract thousands to the International Village and accomplish the purpose of demonstrating the makeup of our citizenry.”
     According to reports, several thousand people visited the Village making it — and the Old Home Week parade — the most popular part of the celebration.
     International Village was only one component of Old Home Week, which started with a beauty queen contest and fireworks on July 1 and concluded with a Soap Box Derby and community religious services in Renziehausen Park on July 10. Various events included a water carnival on the Monongahela River, a tour of the city, McKeesport Boys Club’s Olympics at the White Street playground, a symphony concert at the bandshell in Renziehausen Park, “tavern specialties” with 5-cent beer, an art show, photo displays, baby contest, and a dog show. The chairman was Zoran Popovich.
     Part of the celebration included the streets adorned with flags from all the nations of the world. Ten nationalities were represented in that first International Village — Greek, Polish, Ukrainian, Serbian, Hungarian, Italian, Croatian, Romanian, Irish, and Jewish.
    The popularity of the International Village component prompted the chairman to continue the Village the following year in August at what would become its new home — Stephen Barry Field in Renziehausen Park.

     It's been a year since folks have traveled from near and far to enjoy the sights, sounds and flavors of McKeesport's International Village. Mother Nature cooperated as people came out to enjoy the opening night of the 62nd ethnic food and entertainment festival in Renziehausen Park in McKeesport. 

     The festival continues Wednesday and Thursday from 3-9 p.m. on Stephen Barry Field. Fireworks were rescheduled for Wednesday evening. Admission is a $2 donation and free parking is available throughout the park. Handicapped parking is available in the lot behind the Jakomas Blue Top Pavilion.

     There are 17 food booths offering mouth-watering international culinary items representing Austria, Croatia, Egypt, France, Germany, Ghana (African-American), Greece, Hawaii, Hungary, Italy, Lebanon, Mexico, Philippines, Poland, Sweden, Taiwan and Vietnam. A sampling of the cornucopia of nationality foods includes stuffed cabbage, pierogies, haluski, palacinka, stuffed grape leaves, tabbouleh salad, baklava, potato pancakes, schnizel, hoppin Johns, sweet potato pie, gyro, mousaka, pastitsio, chicken paprikash, stuffed banana peppers, gnocchi, baked kibbee, spinach pie, chicken quesadillas, lumpiang shanghai, adobo rice bowl, leche flan, apple dumplings, teriyaki chicken skewer, and egg roll. There is something for even the pickiest of eaters.

     Once Village-goers make a selection of food, they can sit down and enjoy the fare while being entertained by groups on the Main Stage or under the Blue Top Pavilion. Performing Wednesday evening on the Main Stage are:

     Alpen Muzikanten - 6 p.m.

     ABC by JoAnn (Hawaiian) - 6:45 p.m.

     Rankin Junior Tamburitzans (Croatian) - 7:30 p.m.

     The Mikey Dee Tamburitzans will host Kolo Night under the Blue Top from 5-9 p.m.

      McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko welcomed festival-goers to the city's annual tradition. He thanked the people on the committee who put the Village together and said they are to be commended for volunteering their time to to put International Village together.

       Rain was forecast for all day and evening Tuesday and the mayor said, "We have been truly blessed with no rain. Historically it seems to rain on the first night, but not this year. Everyone is enjoying themselves and that's what is important. We have a decent crowd tonight and I expect a bigger turnout tomorrow (Wednesday) and even bigger on Thursday."

       For many people, the Village is an annual tradition. Mike and Mary Louise Novotnak of West Mifflin have been attending the festival for years, and go at least one day. "I like to listen to the music," he said. His wife agreed but said she also likes "all the different food and seeing all the different people."

     For the past 18 years, Mikey Dee has been the master of ceremonies for International Village. He said the first night crowd was good, "especially with the expectation of bad weather. I'm looking forward to the rest of the week. We have some great entertainment the next two nights. And the weather looks like it will be good."

     When it comes to the Village, stage manager Patrick Fisher has been instrumental in helping organize the festival longer than anyone on the committee. He echoed the mayor's sentiments about the weather. "We are blessed the rain held off. It was a great first night and I'm looking forward to the rest of the week."

     He said that while some familiar faces are missing from this year's festival, "we stick together as one. We are McKeesport Strong when it comes to International Village and it continues to go on. I see a lot of my friends here every year and it's nice to know we have McKeesport in our hearts." 

     During Monday's Village for Kids, youngsters could enter to win a bicycle by writing why they wanted to be crowned either the Prince or Princess. This year's royalty are Isaac Johnson and Paige Price. They each were presented with a bicycle and helmet from the McKeesport Trail Council. 

     Aside from the food booths, there are numerous information booths. They include the McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center, Carnegie Library of McKeesport, McKeesport Alliance Church (diaper changing station), Auberle, KT Krise Transit, Senior Lifestyle Connections, Strifflers, Trulieve, UPMC Smart Unit, McKeesport K-9 Unit, and the U.S. Army.

     This marks the 30th year for the Casturo Education Awards, which will be announced the final night of the Village. Entry forms are available at the library booth. Two awards will be given - $500 and $250 - with the winner chosen in a random drawing Thursday night. Recipients do not have to be present to win.

     There are activities for the younger visitors to the festival. There is face painting and six different inflatables for youngsters to enjoy. Tickets are required for the inflatables and there is a fee for face painting.

                                                                                                                       Story and photos by Carol Waterloo Frazier