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New Brunswick Hosts Annual Hungarian Festival

HIstorically-Hungarian Neighborhood Hosts Annual Tradition Along Somerset Street
Hungarian Fest 2014
The Hungarian Festival is always a big hit in New Brunswick, drawing tens of thousands to Somerset Street. Dawud Naz Dockery

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Hub City will be host an array of activities and excitement on Saturday, June 4, as the city's 41st Annual Hungarian Festival is held along Somerset and Plum Streets.

The festivities begin at 11am and last all day.

One of the largest festivals of in New Brunswick, and one of the only places where alcoholic beverages can be sold and consumed in public, the Hungarian Festival pays homage to the city's rich connection with the Eastern European nation.

The festival will include an array of folk music and dancing performances, along with authentic cuisine such as Töltött káposzta (stuffed cabbage rolls), kolbász (sausage), and lángos – a deep fried specialty bread eaten with a variety of toppings.

There will also  be a number of attractions for children, including arts and crafts, bounce houses, and face painting.

It will be a special day for the Hungarian American Heritage Museum, located at 300 Somerset Street, a place where visitors to festival can stop by to cool off and learn about the rich culture of Hungary.

The museum, which was established in 1959, offers an array of exhibits that include native Hungarian and Hungarian-American art, garnering over 80,000 visitors since it opened in 1980. 

New Brunswick, and specifically the Fifth Ward neighborhood, has long been an epicenter of Hungarian culture.

In the 1930's, it was estimated that the Hungarian community made up one-third of the residents of New Brunswick.

The city also saw a new wave of immigration in 1956, where refugees were brought over to Piscataway, from the failed Hungarian Revolution.

A memorial dedicated to the victims of the revolution stands at Mindszenty Square at 219 Somerset Street, near St. Ladislaus Roman Catholic Church.

Although many have moved out the city, the Hungarian presence in New Brunswick is still visible, which includes the Hungarian American Athletic Club, four churches, numerous foundations, and a museum.

Today, the Fifth Ward neighborhood is predominantly populated by immigrants from other places like Mexico and Guatemala, and the growing student body of Rutgers University.

But even though most of the Hungarians have moved on, New Brunswick still maintains a "Sister City" relationship with Debrecen, Hungary.

A delegation of students and teachers from Debrecen recently visited City Hall on May 11, according to a post on the city website.

"Seven students and three teachers from Venkerti Primary School in Debrecen were accompanied by their peers from Woodrow Wilson Elementary School during the City Hall visit. Last year, Woodrow Wilson sent a delegation of students and teachers to Venkerti School for a similar visit through the Sister Cities program."