And sticky, and you could see the humidity in the air as it hung around the buildings downtown.
It looked like the weather folks were going to nail it this time about the afternoon storms. Although, you don't really need a meteorologist to predict the weather in Cleveland, it changes so often you're bound to be right at some point in the day.
We'd come into the city after church and crossed the Father's Day inbound traffic for the baseball game. Kids and Dads and all kinds of people sporting their best Tribe attire in red, white, and blue. Caps, shorts, and shirtsleeves, with not a rain poncho to be seen. Denial that weather would interrupt a perfect afternoon at the ballpark was part of surviving in Cleveland.
So it's safe to say that supporting cultural festivals in is the blood - and when there is food to be had, more the better!
It was hosted outside of a downtown church. This church was closed by the diocese a few years ago during the heart-wrenching consolidation efforts for economic reasons, but the longtime parishioners still hope they may get to return.
There were portable tents and tables set up in a circle with more than a dozen kinds of homemade goulash. Even in the heat, it was fabulous. Each person was given a numbered list, to be checked off as you got a "taster" bowl from that chef.
One of my favorites must have been others' favorite as well, because they had quite a crowd going!
There were tables with checker board tablecloths set up under every available tree. Some folks had brought patio umbrellas while others wore sunhats. Because we weren't right off the lake, the breezes were few and far between. The crowd had many mature members, but also the occasional child or two, usually found closer to the pastry tent than the goulash!
After tasting as many as you could, before they ran out, you marked your favorite number on the back of the ballot and placed it in the kettle.
Because of course, where else would you collect ballots for goulash but a kettle?
They had a one-man band with his tricked out accordion and high tech electronic back up music. I don't know his name, but he was quite good. My baby niece would be the first to tell you, because she was out there dancing right along with the polka-wanna-be's here. And she clapped after every song!
Just as the kettles were being tipped to ladle out the very last bowls, the announcement came that a storm was about 30 minutes out. I pulled out my smartphone and checked the weather channel radar map. The array of colors close to the GPS pindrop on the map made me think 30 minutes was a generous estimate! We cleaned up the tables, gathered up our belongings, did the 'family goodbye' - you know, where everyone has to say good bye to each person as if they won't see them any time soon...(like tomorrow), and headed to the car.
I'd made it about 2 miles out of town, starting my road trip home before the deluge hit. It didn't last the whole trip home, but it did make me thankful for light Sunday traffic on the highways. If you get a chance to pop into a cultural festival this summer or fall I highly recommend it. Not only could you learn and see new things, and have some great eats, but you support the families that built our cities and towns into the diverse-rich communities they still are today.