For the past 15 years there has been an annual gathering of Estonian families and friends in the Phoenix area of Arizona at the end of February. As the year have gone by attendance has varied up and down as is common in America having a very mobile society. In fact some of the attendees spend winters in Arizona and return to their summer homes in the Northwest and even Canada. This year we did have the largest of turnout ever with 56 individuals in attendance.
Most of the folks naturally were Estonians or had Estonian roots. However, thru mixed marriages there were also many American spouses and those from other nations. Still the focus of course was the Estonian culture and it was well brought out in the many ethnic dishes of food that were brought to share. For example there was blood sausage, pork gelatin, meat pies, sauerkraut pork roast among the many main dishes. On the desert table there was a large kringel baked in two sections forming the number 95 representing the anniversary year that was baked by Ene (Kirsipuu) Corupe.
The more formal activity started off with the singing of the Estonian anthem. This was followed by the Arizona Estonian Honorary Consul Michael Chan presenting awards to three of the people present for their efforts in promoting the Estonian spirit in the far off southwestern American Sonoran Desert. The three honorees were the host family Jim and Linda Abbott, then Peter (Vaga) Feldmann, and finally Steve and Hilja (Hõlpus) Martinez who all received engraved translucent mantel clocks inducting them into the Honorary Ambassador's Club.
At the conclusion of the event we all expressed interest to return next year and hopefully many years to come. Furthermore, many of the folks are planning to attend Esto 2013 in San Francisco in early July of this year which should be a fabulous worldwide event.
Peter (Vaga) Feldmann – author and photographer