ST. LOUIS - On Sunday hundreds of St. Louisans gathered to celebrate two very special anniversaries: The 10th annual Bosnian Bevo Festival, and the 250th birthday of the city of St. Louis.
The St. Louis area is home to the second-largest Bosnian population in the world. Many Bosnians in the area fled war in their home country to seek refuge here.
Now that community has created a permanent monument of gratitude to the city of St. Louis.
On a small wedge of grass between Gravois Avenue and Morgan Ford Road stands a new Sebilj fountain.
According to the St. Louis Bosnian:
The Sebilj is a kiosk-shaped public fountain made out of wood and stone, usually built at the public squares or intersections of important roads. Such fountains were common in the lands that were ruled by The Ottoman Empire.
The Sebilj fountain that now stands in the Bevo Mill Neighborhood is an exact replica of one in Sarajevo; on Sunday it was dedicated to St. Louis.
"Everything was built from donations," said Sadik Kukic, president of the Bosnian Chamber of Commerce. "The City of St. Louis helped us a little bit. They always build with us here in St. Louis and this is our gift to them for their 250th birthday."
"It means a lot," said Azra Alihodzic. "This is something that our kids can come 20 years from now and look at it and make sure they know the history behind it."
Alihodzic says the festival is more than just a street party. It's a way for her children to connect with and honor their origins.
"Our music, our dancing, our clothes in our culture, it's kind of different. So we'd definitely like them to be familiar with it and be able to tell their children about it."
Festivalgoers like Ajla Halilovic say in an area with around 70,000 Bosnian people. The festival and the Sebilj fountain help keep one thing strong.