Cleveland – March 2019 – Chasing Away Those Winter Blues, Slovenian Style

Cleveland has always had a large population of people from throughout eastern Europe, including Slovakia. As a result there are a number of festivals coming from those regions.

For this cold Saturday we went to check out Kurentovanje’ – which is a Slovenian festival to chase away winter. Held at the Slovenian National Home on the east side of Cleveland, the hall was full of activities.

The band was playing polkas. They were very talented, and the audience appreciated it.

Numerous ladies had recently made headdresses

The highlight of the day is the parade. I have found for the best photos it is imperative to go to the staging area as they gather.

I am not really sure about someone sitting on his ‘throne’ with a shield, skull staff and motorcycle helmet, but it was just the beginning of the strangeness (and fun).

This pleasant young lady was soon to become the devil.

There were a number of groups dressed in historic ethnic attire.

The Krampus crowd came back from Christmas.

Another band was warming up, or just trying to stay warm.

The Polish apples?

Finally the parade started…. Slovenian flags were everywhere.

The parade featured all the ethnic groups, as well as the local high school drum and dance team.

The Kurent wranglers were keeping them all in line.

The Kurentovanje Festival and Parade was yet another great celebration. Hopefully they do indeed scare winter away soon.

Chicago – December 2018 – Saturday Night Live Experience

Saturday Night Live has been coming to you from New York for 40 years, so it makes no sense why the SNL Experience would be in downtown Chicago, but it is.

With an hour and a half before closing we decided to pay the $25 each and check it out. We got our tickets and went up stairs where we we herded into a small room for the preview video – which fortunately was only a few minutes long.

We then made our way in. The exhibits gave a brief history of the show’s start, followed by how the week of preparation leads up to Saturday night.

The highlights of the exhibit were the costumes and props collected over the years.

The Land Shark

Bill Murray’s Nick the Lounge Singer’s jacket.

Party on Wayne – Party on Garth

One of the more interesting areas was makeup, including the Coneheads.

A large area of costumes.

As well as a collection of the fake products

The upper level had a mock up of the control room, where we were once again grouped together.

This lead us to a replica of the stage where they presented a video to make us feel like we were there (sort of)

The costumes and props are cool to see, but you can likely watch all the videos at home on Youtube. It was cool, but not worth $25 each.

We did however get an additional floor for the Radio and TV Museum. This focused primarily on Chicago TV and Radio, but had some interesting items like Jack Benny’s violin (old school – look it up).

In a section on advertising they had a Crash Test Dummy

The very famous Nixon- Kennedy debate took place in Chicago in 1960. This is the camera used that many say swayed the election to Kennedy.

Meet The Press has been a Sunday morning news program for decades. The museum has one of the sets used.

Finally in the way back machine – Charlie McCarthy (another look it up moment for many)

Columbus – October 2018 – Highball

Columbus, despite being a medium sized city not on either of the coasts, is known as a fashion city primarily because it is the home of the Limited Brands. As a result there are more clothing fashion designers in Columbus than anywhere else in America except Los Angeles and New York.

The annual Halloween festival, Highball, is intended to mix fashion with Halloween. Unfortunately for us, we were there too early in the evening, and it was raining, so the crowd as sparse. Despite this, we did see some great looks….

All the ticket sellers at the north end were in 1920s looks.

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The beer truck people were ready…

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While it was mostly adults, a couple of kids came along (again we were there much too early for the really good crowds – next year we will go much later in the evening).

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Luigi and Friends.

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Johnny Ramone and friend.

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The first band was dressed from the Wizard of Oz.

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Dorothy was the lead singer and keyboardist.

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The Tin Man apparently had a synthesizer.

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And coupled on backup singing with the lead guitarist the Lion

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While the Scarecrow was on drums.

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Likely the only male Indian nun in Columbus..

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This group has their seasons mixed up, they are ready for Christmas far too early.

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Party On Wayne – Party on Garth.

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A really knit beard.

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Steam Punk meets Scottish.

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What happens when light swords appear.

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Battles ensue.

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They were fashionable in the drizzle.

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The next band were all super heroes.

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Including the lead singer in drag as Wonder Woman.

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A Bat Bass.

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Finally we had had enough drizzle, and the crowds were still getting drunk in nearby bars, or at the hockey game, so we decided to head on out.

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But not before we were greeted by one more group. Next year – hopefully no rain, and we will go much later to get the real show…

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Cincinnati – August 2018 – 1940s Day at Lunken Airport

Lunken Airport is located in a valley on the east side of Cincinnati where the Miami River flows into the Ohio River. Because it is in a valley that has a tendency to flood it is known as ‘Sunken Lunken’.

In the early days of aviation it was the airport for Cincinnati, but in the late 1940s they moved to a much larger site across the river in Northern Kentucky.


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Lunken still is a very busy airport, serving corporate jets and other smaller private planes, while maintaining it’s classic art deco look.

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On this day the Cincinnati Museum group was hosting ‘1940s Day at Lunken’. Among the events was a ‘Rosie the Riveter’ photo shoot.

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Amazingly a couple of elderly women were on hand actually were ‘Rosies’ during the 1940s.

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People were encouraged to dress the era, and many did.

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The festival hosting a number of vintage airplanes and cars, and those that came in costume fit in perfect with the equipment.

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Either she is a spy or one of the museum workers.

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A Carmen Miranda look, minus the fruit.

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We saw a couple of ladies dressed in their ‘League of Their Own’ uniforms – a great touch.

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There was entertainment all day. The ‘Queen City Sisters’ acapella group were great singers, with style in their presentation.

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The umbrella served two functions this day – shade in the hot sun, then protection from the rain when a hard shower came through.

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She made a great entrance from the sidecar.

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As noted previously there were some vintage planes and cars, and this fire truck.

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They were very selective in the cars presented, all fitting the environment, if not exactly period perfect.

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Some Model A’s.

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Airplanes and a stylish dress and hat – how cool.

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A vintage Navy plane was on hand.

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I can see this being 1935 in Cincinnati.

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Molly Wellmann is a local tavern owner, and historian. She entertained the crowd with the history of alcohol production in Cincinnati (which is extensive).

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Meanwhile the contestants for the costume contest gathered.

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I suggested to these three they visit Twinsburg next year, they would be a hit there too.

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These ladies were also from the museum.

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The styles were great – without the people who came this would’ve been a mediocre event with a couple of planes and cars. With them it was fantastic.

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A vintage couple with a vintage hangar in the background.

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One observation I have made over the last couple of years that if you ask someone to take their photo and you have your phone or a point and click camera you don’t get much response, but if you have a SLR you get enthusiasm.

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While the dancing was occurring in another tent, this costume contestant decided to combine them.

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The pilots are ready for boarding.

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If this is the 1940s I need to time travel – what a great day.

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And they danced the day away….

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Columbus – December 2017 – Krampus

This year I learned something new, the legend of ‘Krampus’.  According to the legend (and Wikipedia), Krampus is a half goat- half demon who during the Christmas season punishes children who have been bad. Over time the legend coupled Krampus with Saint Nicholas to encourage children to be good.

For a full description please see the Wiki link:

Krampus celebrations are a big deal in Germany, Austria and other countries in the region. This was the first I had seen any celebrations in the states, and while small, was entertaining.

The group gathered in the a parking lot in the Clintonville neighborhood of Columbus.

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Noise makers and elaborate costumes were the order of the day.

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Apparently the Grinch and Mrs Grinch fit the bill as well. The costumes were great.

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Three horned ladies.

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The legend says they use sticks to ‘whip the children into behaving’. Clearly not a 21st century approach.

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The parade went down the sidewalk for about 3 blocks.

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I behaved myself.

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Another Krampus monster.

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Mrs Claus has a new look, along with apparently a Clint Eastwood fan. Hopefully this celebration catches on and grows larger each year – it is a nice change from the repetitiveness of the usual Christmas celebrations and festivals.

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Cincinnati – October 2016 – Renaissance Festival

Another sunny mid October day, perfect for going to the Ohio Renaissance Festival in the small town of Harveysburg, near Cincinnati. An annual event that runs every weekend from August through October, it is a 30 acre permanent village with over 100 shops and 12 outdoor stages set in a fictional 16th century English Village.

Costumed performers on stage and through the streets provide continuous entertainment. The first show we saw was a juggler who not only juggled three burning torches, but managed to balance a sword, using the pointed end, on a ball.

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After a brief stop with a comedy routine set on a large ship that was hard to follow because we were too far back, we settled into a covered area to see a sword swallower who also ate flames. I have no idea how someone gets started with this as a talent, but he was very good, and his big finish with a sword fully down him was stunning.

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Everyone, including the sword swallower, took a break as the the performing cast including the Queen and her entourage along with representatives from each festival shop make a parade past us.

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At times it is difficult to tell who is in the show and the spectators as many people came in costume.

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Our next show of the day was in the Muditorium, and was another comedy bit, this time set on a stage next to a mud pit.

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Finally we watched Dirk and Guido, who had fake sword fights, as well as tossing them back and forth to each other. They ended with a large audience participation song, complete with plenty of innuendos.

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We decided the crowd was getting too cumbersome to really enjoy the events, and we had seen the entire grounds, and many of the shows, so we called it a day, arriving in the parking lot amazed to see the sea of cars. Even with the crowds the Ohio Renaissance Festival is a highly recommended event to check out.

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Cleveland – August 2016 – World Yo Yo Championships

After looking for a variety of events I have come to the conclusion everything a person or animal can do has a world championship somewhere. Cleveland had the privilege of hosting the 2016 World Yo Yo Championships at the Renaissance Hotel on Public Square. The previous year’s event was held in Tokyo, so it was a big deal to be in Cleveland.

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The even had over 1,000 competitors from more than 30 countries, the majority of the contestants were from Asia, competing in  five styles of play: 1A (single yo-yo), 2A (double yo-yo looping), 3A (double yo-yo sleeping), 4A (offstring) and 5A (counterweight).

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We arrived to a packed hall, with people on stage practicing, while others were visiting the numerous vendors surrounding the room. We came home with a couple of yo yo’s ourselves. Not really knowing what to expect, it turned out to be a very artistic, amazing event. Who knew?

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Binche, Belgium – February 2006 – Museum

To go along with the Binche Festival, they have a museum of costumes. Of particular note are the ‘Gilles’ costumes that are featured during the festival. A Gilles is Belgian/French for Clown.

The museum had an impressive collection of costumes, and was a welcome respite from the crowds outside.

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