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Susquehanna Life

Historical 'Edu-tainment' on Hand at Slavic Heritage Celebration

Feb 26, 2015 11:37AM ● By Erica Shames

Slavic performing arts and heritage will return to the auditorium of the Luzerne County Community College’s Northumberland Center at Arch and Eighth Streets. Vincent Chesney will host the seventh annual event on Thursday, March 26, at 5 p.m.  This year’s event is titled “Anthracite Amazon: ‘Big Mary’ Septak and Coal Region Activism.”

As in previous years, Chesney generously offers this high quality event free and open to the public.

The title references nicknames given to a community organizer by local authorities and the press.  Angered by the Lattimer Massacre and men returning to work after such a gross injustice, the Hazleton area innkeeper rose to extraordinary prominence with her group of ‘Amazons’ through her support of coal miners’ labor dispute. ‘Big Mary’ did this more than 20 years before women had the right to vote.

Scheduled to speak at this year’s event is Regina Drasher, who has researched Septak and performs a reenactment of the Slavic activist. Ms. Drasher is a 26-year volunteer at Eckley Miners Village where she embodies Septak. Also scheduled to perform is musician Dave Matsinko who will play period folk music on old-time banjo, mandolin, and mountain dulcimer.

“This year’s event combines two popular formats from previous years: a one-woman show as well as a music performance,” said Chesney. “Anyone interested in historical ‘edu-tainment’ through music and acting should attend. Stop complaining that there isn’t anything to do and support a great local event!”

There is a shared labor connection to last year’s event as well, suggesting that culture is not just found in ethnicity but also in work.

Past Slavic Performing Arts Heritage Festivals have included award-winning authors James Pula, Irene Tomaszewski, Roma Lisovich and international folk groups Barynya and Kazka.

The event will be held in the auditorium in Luzerne County Community College’s Northumberland Center at Arch and Eighth Streets, Shamokin.  In addition to items related to the performers, ethnic foods will also be available for a nominal fee.

Chesney created this event to illustrate the rich history and ethnic diversity of the area as well as connect subjects that students are learning to real life context. Each year the event allows the college and community to share in an entertaining and educational cross-cultural experience. 

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