University of Pittsburgh
October 29, 2015

Pitt to Host 25th Annual Slovak Heritage Festival Nov. 1


Katie Fike


PITTSBURGH—Hundreds of Slovak-Americans and fans of Slovak culture are expected to gather at a free public festival at the University of Pittsburgh, where guests may taste halušky, applaud song and dance performances, learn Slovak expressions, attend lectures, and shop at craft booths. The 25th Annual Slovak Heritage Festival will take place from 1 to 5 p.m. Nov. 1 in the Commons Room of the Cathedral of Learning, 4200 Fifth Ave., Oakland.

Pitt’s Slovak Studies Program is presenting the festival along with the Pitt Student Slovak Club. The Slovak Studies Program, led by Martin Votruba, is the only one of its kind in the country where students can enroll in Slovak language and culture classes and opt to receive a minor in Slovak studies. The program is supported by the Slovak Endowment, which was established with $500,000 from the First Catholic Slovak Union, Ladies Pennsylvania Slovak Catholic Union, First Catholic Slovak Ladies Association, Slovak Catholic Sokol, and National Slovak Society.

At the festival, food offerings will include halušky (pan-fried gnocchi and cabbage), holupki (stuffed cabbage), klobása (sausage), and pirohy (the Slovak spelling for pierogi dumplings), among other ethnic dishes and pastries. 

Attendees will be able to explore Slovak heritage at several lectures, including:

“There is No Easy Button: Using Immersion Genealogy to Understand Your Slovak Ancestors,” Lisa Alzo, 1:15 p.m., 239 Cathedral of Learning

“‘The Wind Blows from Pol’ana’: Culture of the Folkloric Detva Region,” Ben Sorensen, 2 p.m., 242 Cathedral of Learning

“Slovakia’s Greatest Expatriate Statesman: Reading and Translating Poems about Štefánik,” Denise Ivan-Antus, 3 p.m., 239 Cathedral of Learning

“Slovak Cooking: How to make Real Slovak Halušky,” Dennis Ragan, 4 p.m., 242 Cathedral of Learning

Performers will include Ben Sorensen on the fujura, dancer Juraj Adamik, Pittsburgh Area Slovaks, Pittsburgh Slovakians, and Slavjane Folk Ensemble. The Slovak Heritage Festival will also feature the Singing Reviľák Family and Jozef Ivaška, well-known musical stars in Slovakia.

Originally from the Slovak Republic, the Singing Reviľák Family has performed a lively and varied folk song repertoire on European, Canadian, and American stages for more than 30 years. They grew up singing in the city of Bardejov, Slovakia. The Reviľáks received numerous awards in nationwide laureate folklore competitions in Bratislava and Žilina, Slovakia, and have produced numerous CDs.

Jozef Ivaška is known in Slovakia as “the Man of a Thousand Songs.” Ivaška now lives in Baden, Austria, where he sings with the Metropolitan Operetta Theatre, but is frequently called on to sing for important functions throughout Slovakia. He graduated from the Bratislava Conservatory of Music, where he studied opera. Ivaška was active in the rock and pop music scene in Ružomberok and Žilina and founded the rock group Sirius in the early 1980s. Ivaška and the Singing Reviľák Family’s CDs will be available for purchase at the festival.

For more information about the Slovak Heritage Festival, contact festival director Christine Metil at 412-624-5906 or