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Global goodies all within reach

Authentic ethnic foods will keep taste buds busy at a church festival.

By LOGAN NEILL
Published October 20, 2006


SPRING HILL - Looking for a place to let your palate roam this weekend? St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church's Ethnic Festival may be just the ticket.

The annual expo, which has been humming along for 14 years now, has become a favorite place for culinary convergences and relaxing family fun.

Visitors can sample authentic foods such as German kielbasa and sauerkraut, Irish stew, Greek gyros and Italian antipasto, and even good old American hamburgers. Afterward, they can strike out to enjoy the midway though hopping on the Tilt-a-Whirl on a full stomach might not be such a good idea or play some skill games.

The free event, which runs today through Sunday, will also feature live music and dance.

Event co-organizer Obie O'Brien believes the festival, which was started to help fund the church's community outreach projects, enjoys an ever-growing popularity because it celebrates the community's cultural diversity.

"It allows people to get to know who their neighbors are," said O'Brien. "A lot of the older folks who come say it reminds them of the little town gatherings they used to go to when they were young."

One change from last year will be the absence of arts and crafts vendors, which had to be dropped due to insurance considerations.

For the younger set, there is the midway with nearly 25 amusement rides and games. Bargain hunters will be able to search for treasures at Second Hand Rose, a cross between a garage sale and a flea market.

The main attraction, of course, is the sprawling food court, where parishioners sell hand-prepared goodies.

"Everything is created with love," O'Brien assures. "It's real home cooking."

Logan Neill can be reached at lneill@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1435.