Mishawaka Heritage Festival returns with ethnic food and history

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Cotton candy will be available at the Mishawaka Heritage Festival on Sunday, Sept. 4, in Central Park in downtown Mishawaka. Photographer: https://goo.gl/k3nWzg (Lindsey Turner) License: https://goo.gl/sZ7V7x

History will come alive again in Central Park as the Mishawaka Heritage Festival returns for the second year. on Sept. 4 to take over Central Park.

Flags from multiple countries adorn the street in preparation for the Mishawaka Heritage Festival. (Photo supplied by the Mishawaka Heritage Festival)
Flags from multiple countries adorn the street in preparation for the Mishawaka Heritage Festival.
(Photo supplied by the Mishawaka Heritage Festival)

The festival, which will feature food, live music, presentations on the history of the town and a fireworks display, will be from 4 to 10 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 4.

“Germans, Belgians and Italians are the more prominent nationalities that helped settle Mishawaka, and we wanted to bring those local flavors to a festival that celebrates these and many other cultures. Just as important are those restaurants that have become synonymous with Mishawaka, because without them, this community wouldn’t be what it is today,” said Anne LaFree, head of operations for the festival.

LaFree explained that it’s incredibly important to capture the essence of the festival through food, because it’s an integral part of culture. Perusing the menu for the festival, it doesn’t take long to see that it achieves a perfect marriage of history and culture.

Leading the charge for both is Sunny’s Korean Restaurant. A hidden gem on the south side of downtown Mishawaka, Sunny’s has been serving South Korean food to customers since 1992.

Sunny's Korean Restaurant will be serving kimchee at this year's Mishawaka Heritage Festival. Photographer: https://goo.gl/SdlMoH (Charles Haynes) License: https://goo.gl/OOAQfn
Sunny’s Korean Restaurant will be serving kimchee at this year’s Mishawaka Heritage Festival.
Photographer: https://goo.gl/SdlMoH (Charles Haynes) License: https://goo.gl/OOAQfn

Owner Chom Sun “Sunny” Kaminski will be bringing kimchee — covered in her house made kimchee seasoning — for festival-goers to sample.

Bonnie Doon, another Mishawaka mainstay, will also be offering an assortment of hand-dipped ice cream at the festival.

The festival will also feature authentic German food from Weiss Gasthuas, one of the few German restaurants in Michiana. Festival-goers can expect to see Bavarian brats with sauerkraut, schnitzel, fries, cherry strudel and pretzels.

Weiss Gasthaus, a German-American restaurant in South Bend, will be bringing traditional German food to the Mishawaka Heritage Festival, including schnitzel (pictured), strudel and pretzels. Photographer: https://goo.gl/EEyOfZ (Jessica Spengler) License: https://goo.gl/sZ7V7x
Weiss Gasthaus, a German-American restaurant in South Bend, will be bringing traditional German food to the Mishawaka Heritage Festival, including schnitzel (pictured), strudel and pretzels.
Photographer: https://goo.gl/EEyOfZ (Jessica Spengler) License: https://goo.gl/sZ7V7x

The Skillet, from nearby South Bend, will be bringing Belgian waffles (with strawberries) and a Polish buffet to round out the European food tour of the festival.

New to Mishawaka, but rapidly gaining in popularity, is Smokestack Brew. With Kentucky bourbon ale brats, pulled pork, smoked barbecue ribs and hot dogs, you’re gonna need a fistful of napkins.

A festival wouldn’t be the same without popcorn, cotton candy and elephant ears. Copper Kettle Corn will be providing several varieties of kettle corn, as well as cotton candy. Ridgedale Christian Ministries was festival-goers covered when it comes to elephant ears.

“It’s [the festival] a chance for local businesses to showcase themselves and what they offer to this community along with the pride they have for this city as many of them have been here for decades,” LaFree said.

A couple takes a double-dip of ice cream from Bonnie Doon at the 2015 Mishawaka Heritage Festival. (Photo supplied by Mishawaka Heritage Festival)
A couple takes a double-dip of ice cream from Bonnie Doon at the 2015 Mishawaka Heritage Festival.
(Photo supplied by Mishawaka Heritage Festival)

But, like any festival, there’s more than just food to check out.

“People will find local businesses and community groups showcasing their heritage in Mishawaka through music, historical displays, food and drink, interactive cultural displays and games, historical presentations from local Mishawakans, and kid’s activities,” said LaFree. “They’ll be immersed in where this city has been and where it’s going. They may even learn a thing or two along the way.”

The festival is free to attend, but a suggested donation of $20 may be made via the festival website to help ensure it may continue each year.

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