| Sokolowski's University Inn Still Life:|
Pope waving to customers as they check out;
Jesus contemplating plastic lemons.
Mark flew to Cleveland Thursday evening so as to spend a few days sharing the thrill of the Twin Days festival with me. I was fortunate to have found an absolute gem of a room for us to rent in the bohemian enclave of Tremont near downtown Cleveland and we settled in quickly with the help of our gracious and thoughtful hosts Sally and Peter. Not 30 minutes after Mark arrived, we began a restaurant and pub crawl that lasted four days, sampling mostly from the staggering number of excellent venues within a six block radius of where we were staying. We hardly used the car at all while we were in town.
One particularly fun meal we had was at a family owned Polish restaurant called Sokolowski's University Inn that's been in business since 1923. Sokolowski's serves up heaps of Eastern European comfort food cafeteria style to a steady stream of visitors, piling plates high with perennial favorites like chicken paprikash and stuffed cabbage rolls, but it's their pierogues for which they are probably most famous. If you're from the South like me, you probably haven't even heard of a pierogue, but in this region they're as culinarily important as BBQ is to Texans. Pierogues are half moon shaped dumplings stuffed with fillings that usually center around cheese or potato. After being boiled, the dumplings are put in a pan with onions and butter until the slivers of onion are caramelized and glassy. They are of course super filling - I didn't have room for more than a trio, but they were mighty tasty. That's Mark's chicken paprikash plate above with the pierogues at the top.
Aside from all the good eating and drinking (The Flying Monkey Pub!), what we'd really come for was a festival that was being held in the little hamlet of Twinsburg which is about a 1/2 an hour south of Cleveland. The Twins Days festival was begun in 1976 with a grand total of 36 twins attending. Today, thousands and thousands of twins convene in Twinsburg to celebrate all things twin at the two day festival.
I had long wanted to attend the festival since I see the world with a photographer's eye. I'd seen enough pictures online to know it would an interesting experience, but I had no idea it was going to be so compelling and dare I say it - heart warming! What nice folks, what rampant creativity, what a spirit of celebration. It was so much fun, I could hardly stand it. This year's theme was "Twinstock - Groovy in Twinsburg!" so you'll be seeing a lot of faux psychedelia in the images.
The visual aspect of this gathering was mind blowing and I took SO MANY PICTURES. This is your warning that this entry is going to be extremely photo intensive, so be prepared or simply skip ahead - up to you.
Contestants in the theme outfit contest:
And now for some talent show hijinx:
My favorite twins, Olivia and Sophia:
Random twin sightings:
Mark and I spent the better part of two days at the festival and my entertainment level never wavered. I feel like I accrued enough stories from the experience to write a novella and enough photos to fill an entire album. It was so much more than what I had expected and in fact my whole experience of Ohio had been the same. I like this state!
On Monday, I dropped Mark at the Cleveland airport before heading out for points east. I'd officially rocked Ohio and it was time for some new territory.