Crowds Flock To Romanian Fest Saturday
People enjoyed the live music so much the fest had to keep going an extra hour into the night, organizer says.
People showed up in droves to the Romanian Heritage Festival this past weekend, listening to live music, waiting in lines for food and beer and relaxing in or near the main tent.
The fest, set up in a huge tent at the Romanian Heritage Center in Niles, featured activities throughout Saturday and Sunday, as well as a VIP reception Friday night.
"We must have had 2,000 people at one time on Saturday, and I thought, 'wow, these people are having a great time," said Steven Bonica, executive director of the Romanian-American Network, which coordinates the festival.
"It didn't matter that in the past week I had only slept about 14 hours. It was worth it."
Fest-goers were having such a good time dancing and socializing Saturday night that, although the live music was supposed to end at 10:30, it went on until 11:30, he said.
"We had great entertainers from Romania and the Republic of Moldova," Bonica explained.
Rain on Friday threatened the VIP night and soft opening of the festival, but Bonica said he was proud the organizers pulled together to make it happen.
"We could have taken the easy way out (and cancelled Friday's event), but I had a team of friends and partners that didn't quit," he said.
While crowds showed up starting around 3:30 p.m. Saturday, attendance was lighter on Sunday. Bonica attributed that to the hot weather and the fact the Euro Cup was being played.
Unlike the first two years of the festival, which came out in the red, the event did not lose money this year. If attendance had been greater Sunday, Bonica said it would have been a clear financial success.
He's weighing whether to do it again next year. If the planners go ahead, they will try for more organizational and financial support, he said.