February 23, 2012

Hungarian Carnival Festival in Ligonier, PA.: 2012




     Because I scheduled attending the Ligonier Valley Theater’s production of Cooking with Gus (thinking it started at 2:00 p. m. when it was scheduled to start at 2:30 p. m., and it opened late) I was delayed arriving at the Hungarian Carnival, which began at 4:00 p. m. I missed the ending of the play and the beginning of the carnival.

    The play was quite humorous, having a ‘heaping helping’ of  comedy, as promised in the publicity. It focuses on Gussie Richardson, an entertaining cookbook author played by Anne Cruzan; her long-time beau Walter, portrayed by Jim Mikula; a slick agent named Bernie, played by Bernie Sherry, and an outrageous gypsy neighbor, Carmen, played by Sue Brick. I regretted missing the ending, which my friends told me continued the comedy, but I did see the scene where Cruzan artfully played the drunk cook. Kudos to the Ligonier Valley Players for yet another well-done production.

     When I arrived at the Hungarian Carnival my husband Monte and my friend Lois were already seated. I quickly snapped a photo of Monte…  

…and ran over to where Old Man Winter was laid out—on the floor—for his funeral. The central activity of the Hungarian festival is burying Old Man Winter to make way for spring’s arrival. While some of the mourning Hungarians couldn’t help smiling, others hit and kicked Old Man Winter: 

     When the service ended, Old Man Winter was carried outside to be thoroughly done in by fire. He was placed on the ground where the Rev. Gabor Nistch, Bethlen Communities chaplain, set him on fire. There he lay, burning, 


under the watchful eyes of those present, 

including several diligent photographers: 

     When all were convinced Old Man Winter was finally done in, the flames running up and down his body were extinguished

and everyone reentered the dining hall for a wonderful Hungarian meal:

     The carnival was accented with a Mardi Gras type atmosphere, to which numerous persons wore costumes—including yours truly, me, myself, and I:


     One of the small children, a little girl who never spoke to me, managed to let me know she would like to try my hat on:  

     Then the entertainment started. Cathy Rhodes, who sang numerous songs, to everyone’s delight,

recognized a couple who had marriage longevity of over 60 years:

Then she enticed a man in the audience named Bill to join her and dance with her while she sang Won’t You Come Home Bill Bailey.

     Prizes were presented for the best costumes, but those in costume seemed not to realize they were being called up front so everyone would know who they were voting for. Thus, I decided to campaign. I went to each table and asked the persons to vote for Number Six, pointing to the number six stuck to my costume, and then holding up six fingers.  It must have been effective, because when the votes were counted I came in second. A little girl dressed in the cutest bee costume came in first.

     My prize was a huge loaf of homemade bread. Delicious!

     The second part of the entertainment was presented by a country band, The Relics,

which roused many dancers to strut their stuff on the dance floor.

     The 2012 crowd was significantly larger than the one at the 2011 festival, and I expect that it will grow in the coming years as people hear how much fun it is to lay Old Man Winter to rest.

     To view pictures of last year’s spring festival click on Hungarian Carnival in Darlington, PA .


  1. We all had a really great time there. The food was great and so was the people there. And I really loved playing there. Hope to be back next yr.

    Dave Campbell, The Relics

    PS, I have since found proof that I am indeed part Hungarian, from the Grech side of my family.

    Comment by Dave Campbell — February 25, 2012 @ 7:19 am | Reply

  2. Thank you, Carolyn, for covering such a festive event! I enjoyed each and every minute as well, and it was so much fun to dance the rest of the night away with music from The Relics! I must report that the reason our show started a bit late was that we had a near sell-out crowd which had to be seated before the show could begin. We had more walk-ins than was expected, and we appreciate ‘word-of-mouth’ advertising on how wonderfu this show was! So sorry you missed the ending, and we couldn’t agree more that the show was well-produced, thanks to Debbie Saville, director. It’s refreshing to see how everyone supports the arts and many special events in Ligonier!

    Comment by Cathi Rhodes, Executive Director — February 27, 2012 @ 10:52 am | Reply

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