After almost a decade of bad press and civil war tearing apart their homeland, Serbs in the Valley are having a coming-out party of sorts.
"Information about the Serbian people, especially in the last decade, has been greatly distorted," said Mesa resident and SerbFest 2003 coordinator Dragica Lipovic. "Serbs have a very rich culture and we should share it with our neighbors."
That culture is about more than war. It’s a celebration of faith and, well, knowing how to throw a great party.
SerbFest 2003, which runs Saturday and Sunday at St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church in Phoenix, will feature the best that Serbian culture has to offer. This year marks the first time the twoday festival will be open to the public.
If you’ve been to any of the Greek festivals around the Valley, you’ll know what to expect. Serbs, who hail from what was once Yugoslavia, share a cultural heritage related to the Greeks by virtue of geography and religion. Both groups are Orthodox Christians and neighbors on the Balkan Peninsula.
The cuisine is similar. Meat lovers will revel in spit-roasted pork and lamb and homemade sausage. Vegetarian fare includes cheese and spinach pita (sort of a quiche made with filo dough) and a variety of desserts made by church parishioners.
Several folklore groups will perform dances from the old country. When the band starts playing, everyone is invited to join in the kola, a dance that can be dangerous for novice feet.
Festivities also include carnival rides for children and tours of the cultural center.
When: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday
Where: St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church, 4436 E. McKinley St. (Loop 202 and 44th Street), Phoenix
Cost: $2, free for children 12 and younger
Information: (602) 275-7360