What a great day! Hungarian Heritage Festival in the San Francisco Bay Area, May 12, 2012
By Gergely Tóth, Berkeley
After a fifteen year hiatus, Bay Area Hungarians again worked together to organize a very successful
Hungarian Day at Belmont'Ôs Twin Pines Park. The event was a dynamic presentation of colorful
Hungarian culture, live music, arts, history, and cuisine. Over 1,200 tickets were sold and visitors kept
coming between 11:30 in the morning and the early evening. They enjoyed a variety of wonderful
Hungarian food and drinks, exciting entertainment, non-stop music and dancing, intricate crafts, displays
of local artisans, and a kids' corner. It was indeed an occasion of wholesome family fun!
The Hungarian Festival is a cultural, heritage and folk festival. This one-day event on the second
Saturday of May is organized by the San Francisco Hungarian Heritage Foundation to celebrate the
Hungarian presence in California. The range of attractions included: folk dancing; various music groups
and singers, both folk and classical; the First California Hussar Regiment; children's play area; and a
comprehensive cultural, historic, and art exhibition, showcasing Hungarians' rich cultural heritage.
Activities for the little ones, hosted by the Hungarian Scouts, Eszterlánc Hungarian Folk Ensemble and
Magic of Clay, included a clay crafting station, original costumes and dolls to observe up-close, games,
and kids' dance instruction.
The musical program was provided by the Forrás Folk Band from Vancouver, the local Danubius Band,
the Pacific Boychoir, clarinetist Nicholas Tong, Peter Dickson Lopez, vocalists Diana Pray and Zina von
Bozzay, and the Eszterlánc dancers.
Dancing was not limited to shows on the main stage. Two dance circles were offered too, one in the
afternoon especially for children, while grown-ups got serious later during the evening táncház. Anyone
was welcome to learn the basic steps of the sizzling Hungarian dances such as kalotaszegi, sárközi, or
csárdás, and all participants were amazed by the vibrant atmosphere.
There was an abundance of food and drink! The vendors providing a truly authentic food and beverage
selection included local and visiting individuals and small companies, as well as Bay Area Hungarian
organizations. Among them were two churches, the Hungarian Scouts, and the Eszterlánc Hungarian
Folk Ensemble. In addition, some Hungarian-owned vineyards donated excellent wine. If you are curious
about the unforgettable taste and smell of the famous gulyás and lángos, cooked fresh on the spot,
make sure not to miss next year's Festival! The menu also featured savory traditional staples like töltött
káposzta, pecsenye, kolbász, and pogácsa, and delectable desserts in the form of Hungarian pastries
(dobostorta, krémes, and strudels called rétes) and ice cream.
The site offered plenty of easy parking (although the earlier you arrived the better!), comfortable
seating, both in the sun and in shade, and clean and easily accessible facilities. The informational booths
offered friendly advice and assistance.
Overall, this was a great cultural experience for old and young, families and individuals, and we look
forward to seeing everyone and their friends next year! A viszontlátásra!