Every August 15th I head to my old neighborhood, Bridgeport, to celebrate the Velika Gospa at St. Jerome Croatian. This is a celebration of the Assumption of Mary, which is a national holiday in many Catholic and Orthodox countries. It may not be a national holiday here but if you went down to the Armour Square neighborhood you would think it was!
There are three church masses, a huge parade procession, marching bands, live music, fireworks and loads of Italian and Croatian food. Over 100 lambs and pigs are spit-fire roasted the night before to prepare for the next day and served alongside Freddies pizza, beef, sausage and lemon ice, Raznici (Croatian grilled pork skewers), and Fritula (fried sweet dough).
There's also some good drinks like homemade lemonade, which you can get spiked with vodka, Heineken Light and Amstel Light, and some wine choices- my wife had a Sterling Chardonnay Vintner's Collection. And for the first time there was some wine sampling by Midland Wine & Grape from Arlington Heights. They had samples of some homemade wines and they sell wine barrels, grapes and grape juice to make wine. Grapes like Barbera, Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Sirah and Zinfandel along with white grape juice is available from select California vineyards in Lodi, Alexander Valley and the Sierra Foothills. I tasted a Zin and really liked it- I'm gonna look into getting some juice from these guys!
It's always a great time at this event even if you're not Croatian. Located in a great neighborhood, lots of families, good food and drink. Make plans for next August 15- you won't regret it!