The Slovenia Times

American Slovenians hold their biggest annual fest


Americans of Slovenian descent are holding their biggest annual cultural festival this weekend near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, featuring live polka music, presentations of Slovenian cultural heritage, and a sausage competition.

Held for the 40th year, Slovenefest is organised by the Slovenian National Benefit Society (S.N.P.J.), an ethnic fraternal benefit and social organization for Slovenian immigrants and their descendants in the US that was founded in 1904 mainly to offer the immigrants health insurance.

The festival takes place in the borough Enon Valley near Pennsylvania's border with Ohio, where in the 1970s the immigrants built a holiday resort.

At first the place was part of North Beaver Township, where a ban on buying alcohol on Sundays was in place at the time. The Slovenian community seceded from the township for several reasons, including to get its own liquor license.

They established a separate borough on 200 hectares called S.N.P.J., which is nowadays one of the least-populated boroughs in Pennsylvania, with a population of 15.

There are many recreation facilities and a cultural venue in the S.N.P.J. borough, which comes alive in summer, especially for Slovenefest.

This year, the festival, which usually includes performances by some 20 polka bands, will again feature a Slovenian food fair. There will be dancing and a beauty pageant competition.

There are an estimated 300,000 people of Slovenian descent living in the US in what is Slovenia's largest emigrant community in the world, according to an estimate quoted on the website run by the Government Office for Slovenians Abroad.

Most American Slovenians live in Ohio and Pennsylvania with Cleveland, Ohio, being home to the largest Slovenian community in the US.


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