Niles festival celebrates international food
Members of WAWEL, a Polish song and dance group, perform at the International Celebration at St. John Brebeuf church in Niles Friday evening. | Kevin Tanaka~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 15, 2013 12:14PM
Standing in front of a vibrant picture of a Filipino flag, Rose Ladao was busy serving homemade food from the Philippines, such as pancit and chicken adobo to guests at the St. John Brebeuf International Celebration on Friday, Feb. 8.
“It shows the diversity in the community,” said Ladao.
The International Celebration, which has been taking place for 17 years, featured food from eight different countries; France, Poland, Ireland, Italy, America, Germany, India and the Philippines.
Ladao, of Morton Grove, said a number of people from the parish get together each year and make homemade Filipino food for the event. She feels it’s a great way to have community members try new ethnic foods.
Other ethnic foods served throughout the evening, included escargot, German potato salad and bratwurst, samosas with chutney, corned beef, lasagna, pierogis, sausage and sauerkraut and hot dogs and macaroni and cheese.
“I love the variety of food,” said Danielle Gumiran, of Glenview, who has been attending the fest for the past four years. “Everybody’s always in a good mood.”
“I like the entertainment,” she added, as she was watching children on stage sing American classics.
This year’s lineup for the entertainment portion of the event included Wawel, a Polish song and dance group, an American pride choir, traditional Indian dance and an anti-violence drill team from the South Side of Chicago.
“We have something for everybody,” said Sheila Ryan, one of the organizers of the event. “It’s a lot of fun.”
Ryan said that each year the fest attracts about 250 to 300 people.
“It’s definitely a family affair,” said Ryan.
Children were dancing along to the Indian dancers as they performed on the stage, and adults were singing along to the American choir singing songs such as “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and “It’s a Small World.” Audience members cheered as members of the World Performance Team threw up their rifles and quickly twirled them during their unique performance with an anti-gang message.
“It brings the community together,” said Niles Village Trustee Chris Hanusiak, about the annual affair. “This really shows the diversity of the Village of Niles.”
Similar to the diversity in the entire village, St. John Brebeuf also has a diverse school and parish.
“We have a large Polish and Filipino community,” said Ryan.
The event is put together by the Catholic Women’s Club and the proceeds from the event will benefit various groups, such as the Girl Scouts.
“Last year, we made a $1,000 donation to the youth ministry to go to camp during the summer.”
This year’s event featured donations from local businesses, such as Amici, Chambers restaurant, Graziano’s Brick Oven Pizza, Lone Tree Inn, Minelli Brothers, Produce World, Jewel, Bacik Deli, Dominick’s and more.
“It’s very appreciated and heartwarming,” said Ryan, about the donations that the local businesses make to support St. John Brebeuf.
The food items are reasonably priced, at only 50 cents a food ticket. Many items were only one to four tickets.
Lucky winners who participated in a raffle took home a wide variety of gift baskets, filled with items including jewelry, wine, toys, food items and much more.