15 minutes with Ralph Bruening, the man behind the International Festival bazaar
June 30, 2009 · Print This Article
Story and photos by Chuck Humel, The Chronicle-Telegram
Name: Ralph Bruening
What’s your connection to the International Festival? I’m the bazaar chairman. I oversee the three-day event and the set-up of the event (at Black River Landing in Lorain).
And you also work for the Lorain Port Authority? I’m the facilities manager and the event coordinator. I oversee all the properties. I run the Port Fest and assist other groups that come in here to do events. I give them a hand.
What are some fun statistics, like how many different food booths are there? We have 40 different food booths with over 200 different types of foods. I believe we’re represented by 19 different nationalities. The favorite food out here seems to be paprikash, that’s the big hit of the year, every year, from the Hungarians and the Croatian club, the Hungarian Reform Church and the Croatian Club. I know that the Croatians—just in one day about three weeks ago—made 2,500 cabbage rolls by hand.
You have a huge tent over there? That’s our beer garden, that’s 3,200 square feet of covered seating space with seating for about 250. In our other tents we have seating for another 250 in the shade.
Where do you store all the tables, chairs and booths? We have three 55-foot semi-trailers that we haul over here and return back to Hot Waters —the water distribution containment area by the city boat launch.
How much garbage does the festival generate at the end of the three days? We have four 40-yard Dumpsters of garbage, so you’re looking at 160 cubic yards of garbage — so that’s quite a bit.
How many people do you expect to attend? What we observed in the other festivals in the area that we’ve discussed things with, they’re seeing attendance rise in most of their festivals because of the economy. People can’t afford to take their families to Disney World, so they’re staying in town. They’re doing the one-tank trips. They can get a decent value and some entertainment for their families.
If this were a golf course, what attendance would you expect for par? About 80,000 for the weekend would be par, but I expect to get a “birdie” on this one and go 90 to 100,000 for the weekend.
Do you have any other thoughts? My wife and I met at the International Festival in the beer tent. In 2001, when the festival was at the Veterans’ Park.
What’s her name? Her name’s Carol, Carol Zink when I met her.
Congratulations. She was with the festival for a few years already. That was actually my first day volunteering.