St. Sebastian Parish festival in Ross features taste of Mediterranean

| Tuesday, July 2, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Visitors to the annual parish festival at St. Sebastian Catholic Church in Ross Township will have the opportunity to taste Mediterranean food with a new addition to the nightly dinners served in the school cafeteria.

The festival, which begins Monday and runs through July 13, is going Greek when Mediterrano restaurant in Ross caters the dinner on Monday evening.

The menu includes lamb shank, which is the signature dish of Mediterrano, along with stuffed grape leaves, baklava and lots of other food from the region, restaurant owner Frank Erdeljac said.

“We hope that our guests enjoy the food so much that they ask us to come back again next year,” said Erdeljac, 60, of Ross. “We would love to share authentic Mediterranean food with the whole North Hills area.”

Erdeljac, who also is a St. Sebastian parishioner, first got involved with the festival when he began working in the outdoor food booth about 15 years ago. Since then, the food booth has become popular for foods such as twice-fried french fries and gourmet funnel cakes.

The goal of the food-booth staff always has been to be a “couple notches above” the usual festival food, Erdeljac said.

“We want visitors to have a ‘Wow!' experience and give them some great flavors and tastes that they wouldn't find at a traditional church festival,” Erdeljac said.

And for the first time, a large tent will be set up next to the food booth with tables and seating, so festival-goers can more comfortably sit down and eat what they purchased next door, Erdeljac said.

“It's a wonderful atmosphere and great family spirit,” Erdeljac said.

“People love to enjoy their food with others in that festival atmosphere.”

A new Chevrolet Camaro will be raffled off. While the festival had a car raffle last year, it was thrown together at the last minute, said Melinda Gaus, marketing and advertising chairwoman for the festival committee.

Raffle tickets are $20 each, and only 3,000 tickets will be sold. People who are feeling lucky, however, may buy as many as they like until the tickets sell out.

“The odds are a little bit better because there won't be an infinite number of tickets,” said Gaus, 31, of Allison Park.

The winning ticket won't be drawn until October, so people have more time to buy tickets, Gaus said.

The festival's planning committee, which has about 25 people on it, work year-round to make sure the festival draws crowds every year, Gaus said.

“It has big features, big rides, and it's six days long,” Gaus said. “Our festival has been around so long that it has become a part of the community.”

Melanie Donahoo is freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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