Drive along Mallard Creek Road in northeast Charlotte and St. Simeon Serbian Orthodox Church will surely catch your eye. A welter of roofs sits atop stone and brick walls that are patterned boldly in red and white. It all builds to a eight-sided cupola topped by a dome and cross.
“It’s a replica of the monastery church in Valjero, Serbia. I grew up in that church,” says Vlado Novakovic, with quiet pride.
Novakovic and his wife Sladjana are best known as founders of Nova Bakery in Plaza Midwood. But they are also pillars of a large community of Serbs and others who fled the former Yugoslavia during its ugly civil war in the 1990s.
This weekend, that community welcomes all of Charlotte to a festival at St. Simeon. Frescos of brilliant blue and gold will be dedicated inside the sanctuary. Outside, soccer games will be played. Bratislav Manasijevic will bring his accordion. Anica Milenkovic and Mladen Lucic will sing.
And a bounty of Serbian food will be served.
“We’ll have svadbarski kupus, our traditional dish with cabbage and lots of meat. It’s usually prepared for weddings,” Vlado says. “There will also be cevapi, the little sausages,” Sladjana chimes in. “And, of course, lots of European bread.”
Check out the elaborate brick barbecue pit where pigs and lambs will roast on revolving spits over an open fire. “On Sunday, they’ll be cooking a whole bull — 700-800 pounds of meat,” Vlado says.
Save room for desserts contributed by many church members, Sladjana advises: ”Palacinke crepes with Nutela and jam. … Gibanica cheese pie in filo dough. … Tulumbe pastry soaked in sugar-lemon syrup. And baklava!”
Tom Hanchett is Historian-in-Residence with the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. Reach him at Tom@HistorySouth.org.
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Sunday.
Location: St. Simeon Serbian Orthodox Church, 7609 Mallard Creek Road.
Details: 704-425-3037; bit.ly/2koxIUd.