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NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—This Saturday, thousands are expected to flock to the city’s annual Hungarian Festival will be taking place on Somerset Street in New Brunswick.
The festival will be celebrating its 38th consecutive year, offering the public an opportunity to experience Hungarian culture for the day.
Greg Hajdu-Nemeth of the American Hungarian Foundation said, “Every year attendees get to see the dances, hear the music, and enjoy the food of Hungary.”
New Brunswick was once home to a large chunk of New Jersey’s Hungarian population. The trend of increasing Hungarian population in New Brunswick was accelerated by a 1956 revolution in that country. Then, the US government used an army camp in Piscataway (which would later become the Livingston campus of Rutgers) to process thousands of refugees, many of whom ended up in New Brunswick.
According to a 2006 New York Times article, the Hungarian population has waned, as the physical expansion of Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and Rutgers University’s enormous student poulation slowly crept into the ethnic neighborhood:
The Hungarian community became a large presence in New Brunswick through several waves of immigration, including one after the 1956 revolution. As the population flourished, a vibrant set of Hungarian businesses and institutions grew up along the French and Somerset Street corridors near the northwestern edge of the city.
While the Hungarian community has diminished over the years — in the 1930’s it made up a third of New Brunswick’s population — much of what it built remains. Some of its mainstays, however, including a restaurant, an athletic club and a bank, have had to be flexible lately to accommodate redevelopment.
The festivities begin with a parade to an opening ceremony down Somerset Street beginning at 11:00am.
Vendors will be selling art, crafts, and food for the duration of the festival. In addition, musicians and dancers will be giving performances and lessons throughout the day.
Events include a fencing exhibition by the Hungarian American Athletic Club at 12:30, a traditional Hungarian arts and crafts demonstration for kids at 1:00, and a folk dance performance by the Kossuth Folkdancers at 1:30.
The Festival will conclude with the Twilight Concert featuring In Medias Brass, a widely renowned Hungarian brass quintet.
The festival area stretches nearly a half-mile along Somerset Street from Bethany Street to Division Street, and half-way down Plum Street.