Fun at the East End Food Co-op Winterfest

Saturday, Abby and I went to the annual East End Food Co-op Winterfest with John, as we did last year, and were joined by Mark, Jin, and their daughter Julia.

This family-friendly annual event serves as a fund raiser, and features a variety of vegetarian and vegan food as well as live music. This year, the draw was Bury the Cabbage, a group playing Irish traditional music.

Bury the Cabbage

Every year, I’ve bumped into a good number of people here that I haven’t seen for a while, and this year was no exception.

Young children

The little kids quickly and spontaneously found one another other and started running around and playing, so Julia had her fun. They all seemed to like the balloon man.

Young children love balloons


There was plenty of food available at the Winterfest. It was all vegetarian and vegan. I stuffed myself silly, especially enjoying the roasted peppers, eggplant, zucchini, and sweet potato pancakes. There was pasta with tofu, falafel, mushroom, salad, fruit, and other selection. I sampled them all.

People getting food

There was a wide selection of cookies, carefully classified. Some were vegan, others were gluten-free. There were too many varieties for me to even try one of each.

Wide selection of cookies

People in Pittsburgh

Abby and I recognized one person in the Irish band, Les. We had met him at a party at one point but not known much about him. It’s funny how in Pittsburgh it is easy to run into the same person in different contexts!

We saw Sam Bertenthal again with his son Fernando. Sam is a local ultrarunner whom I first met in 2006 when I ran in his annual Sammy’s Birthday Run for the first time. I ran just 27.5 miles that year (long enough to go beyond the marathon distance of 26.2 for my own pride), and went back to do the same in 2008.

Sam said hello and reminded me that next year he will be holding his race on July 14. We’ll see whether I’m up for it again. I haven’t been running long distances in recent years.

We also saw some other people we recognized as regulars to the Winterfest, such as Linda of Salsa Ritmo, a salsa dance instructor through whom Abby and I actually first got together at a party of hers (and Linda’s dance partner is Mark Fuhs, who was my classmate at CMU when I got him into ballroom dancing, then he discovered salsa and got serious about it and became an instructor).

Kimberlee Faught is a regular at the annual Winterfest also. If you live in the city of Pittsburgh, you’ve probably seen her around playing violin in Squirrel Hill on Murray or Forbes (or elsewhere) when the weather is nice. I bump into her running in 5K races also!

I mention all this only because I really want to highlight how much I love that in Pittsburgh, I never feel alone. Wherever I go, I’ll run into someone I know or have met from somewhere. This feel is very important to me.

Music and dancing

We enjoyed listening to the music, and Abby and I got up to dance a couple of waltzes (last year . There were some people who attempted to do Irish step dancing. Unfortunately, Abby and I don’t know it, so we didn’t try it. Maybe that’s something else worth learning!

Sorry, no videos this year of Abby and me dancing! Last year John did get video of us dancing waltz to Zydeco Dogz.

I noticed that Bruce Foley of Bury the Cabbage was playing what looked like an oversized tin whistle, so during a break I asked him about the instrument. Indeed, it was a whistle in D an octave lower than the little tin whistle I had started playing. He said the best place to get these whistles is Burke. I have to confess I’m not currently in the market for a low whistle, much less any professional-grade whistle.

Interviews about the East End Food Co-op (updated 2012-12-04)

At the party, there was a call for volunteers to be interviewed about the East End Food Co-op, how they use it, and what it means to them. Here’s a video that was made from the interviews.

Winterfest with the East End Food Co-op from East End Food Co-op on Vimeo.


It was getting to be bedtime for Julia, so Mark and Jin prepared to go home, and John, Abby, and I also packed up (we were all told to take leftover food, of which there was plenty) and went home.

With filling our bellies, hearing a variety of music on different instruments and, dancing, hanging out with friends, people-watching, it was a fun evening.

I am grateful to the East End Food Co-op for organizing this annual event and providing the food, and the Jewish Community Center for hosting its location again. I am grateful that Mark, Jin, Julia, and John were able to join Abby and me for the evening. I am grateful for the opportunity to listen to excellent live music and dance to it.

(Update of 2012-15-15)

The following year, we attended the annual Winterfest again.

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