Turn Back The Clock: A Look Back at TR 03 - Ten Years Later

TR 2003 - Perhaps the most memorable year in recent history, largely due to its being captured on film and the focus of our beloved "Fire & Ice Extravaganza" documentary. But aside from so many quotes, songs, images and video clips being etched in our memories from the documentary, TR 03 was truly unique and important in a number of ways. While the second generation had been gaining steam since Monica and Jovan first had the notion of bringing their own friends to TR a decade earlier, 2003 finally represented the year that this generation's commitment to upholding the tradition of Serb Fest was put to the test. In the weeks leading up to TR 2003, Jovan eloquently offered up these inspiring words to the seven men who would join him at Turkey Run that year:

"My father told me years ago that everything in the world changes except the stones on the ground, and those too change with time. It seems even our most sacred gathering has evolved over the years. I still remember being a skinny timid little kid holding a paper plate overflowing with cevapcici as the grown-ups sat around telling stories from years past. As some of you no doubt have heard by now, 2003 marks a transitional year for “Serb Fest”. For the first time, there will be no grown-ups in attendance. The heritage of Serb Fest is slowly transitioning into folklore known only to those who have experienced TR in years past. So the torch has been passed on to the next generation. This is a big responsibility but I feel we have what it takes to make those who came before us proud. Let us learn from their wisdom and live to tell our own stories."

Jovan Zelenkovich & Scott Berger vowed to carry the torch for the next generation and TR 03 managed to stay true to the spirit of Serb Fest. 2003 saw the introduction of 2 new attendees - Rishi Loona and Charlie Ruiz. Both, clearly have become integral to Serb Fest. Charlie of course, was coming off a questionable introduction to TR in the months leading up to the weekend. The events of this introduction have since been recounted in Charlie's "TAO of Turkey Run". Despite his shaky introduction, he would, still go on to capture the 2009 Golden Cevepcici Award. With the responsibility of organizing the weekend solely on the "kids", Scott & John established protocol that would be in place for several years. Remember, at the time, an early Saturday morning departure was the norm. Friday afternoon, Scott & Krangis joined Jovan and Rishi at the Zelenkovich Residence in Prospect Heights. While in previous years, this simply meant enjoying the evening in anticipation of Saturday's departure, this year, the 4 men embarked on a historic shopping trip for the weekend's food, drink and supplies. They first paid a visit to DSD Delicatessen on Lawrence Ave to pick up a then record, 3 orders of cevapcici (450). This of course was captured on film and opens the documentary. Trips to Sams Club and Walmart followed as the group made their way through the newly generated "TR Checklist". One notable purchase in 2003 was the *Official* Turkey Run Cooler. At the time, we might as well have been going to Texas for Turkey Run, because the mentality was "bigger is better!" - hence the massive white cooler that we were lucky we were able to fit into any of our cars, let alone with the other food and gear coming along! So for several checklist items: beer, tomatoes, cevapcici, we could seemingly never have enough. This trend would continue for several years before we began reigning in the quantities. So, as Rishi reveals in the driveway of the Zelenkovich Residence on the documentary, we completed shopping after 3 hours, and were collectively, over $1,000 poorer. But none of us were very much alarmed - as the revelation that the bill would ultimately be split 8 ways made every purchase (i.e. the cooler) much more reasonable!

The evening included a dinner at Old Country Buffet in an attempt to "train" or "stretch our stomachs" for the upcoming weekend. We also had an official "weigh in" that evening with the thought that we'd track how much weight we'd each gained over the weekend (the results were actually unimpressive, so this would-be tradition died quickly). You can catch the initial weigh in during the credits of the documentary!

As Saturday morning arrived, the remainder of the group met at the Zelenkovich residence and most were tasked with packing the cevapcici. This included separating layer after layer of raw meat into manageable slabs, each packed into individual zip lock bags. The use of zip lock bags for food (as well as for ice), was a new cooler packing technique for all of us - and remains the recommended best practice for packing coolers.

Departure commenced at 8am sharp, leading to a late morning stop at Burger King in northwest Indiana. After a set of push-ups in the parking lot, an early lunch was inhaled before continuing to Marshall, IN. Of course, with multiple video cameras floating around, this made for some interesting car rides! Once at TR, the weekend's events were generally par for the course for that period of time. We took on a group hike immediately upon arrival, followed by an evening of eating. The young tradition of Bocce continued to be popular and the level of alcohol consumption amongst the group was considerably higher than years past (with the absence of the adults). The group still ambitiously took on a 15 mile trip down Sugar Creek - without alcohol. We still had guys sleeping on the floors of our Cabins (Founding Members got the beds per the TR Code of Ethics). Perhaps one of the more impressive feats was the consumption of 50+ cevepcici by Big Shit. With this performance, the "Cevapcici Consumption Award" was initiated. Other Awards were initiated as well: "Most Improved" was earned by Nutz for not forgetting about TR after the demerit earning debacle of 2002, as well as the "Rookie of the Year" award, captured by Rishi - who also earned the distinction of having traveled a record setting distance to attend TR (traveled from Charlotte, NC).

As TR 2003 came to an end, Nutz proclaimed Serb Fest as "A Weekend of Fire & Ice" in reference to the fires burning in the grills of TR and the Ice that filled the collection of coolers. Following TR 2003, the new generation's Founding Members, Scott & John decided that it would be appropriate to rename Memorial Day Weekend's events at Turkey Run as it would relate to the new generation. With this, "Fire & Ice Extravaganza" was born. This would fittingly become the title of the documentary that was put together on the weekend's events. (A few years later, after some of the elders had resumed attendance, it was decided that the weekend would, for all time, still be known as "Serb Fest" - regardless of who was in attendance - as the weekend would forever be a celebration of Serbian cuisine and culture). "Fire & Ice" however, still remains a secondary name for the weekend's festivities.

Following the weekend, TR Online was born! This along with the release of the Fire & Ice Documentary brought everyone's spirit and enthusiasm to new levels and set the stage for the ridiculous hype that was to follow (and continue growing) for years to come. We're all aware of what that has blossomed into now, 10 years later. It was also following the weekend that a moment captured on camera by Chuckles would affectionately come to be known as the "OLAF pose". The impromptu, mid-hike, group photo was almost deleted by Chuckles because of the ridiculous position OLAF had put himself in. But in a last moment decision, the image was saved and distributed to the group via email. The photo was accompanied by the caption, "Olaf, what the f....". So let's remember where it all started - TR 2003!

MORE TR 2003

Jovan & Nutz are pleased with the new Cooler  
"Olaf, what the f......"  
A familiar scene -  
TR 2003 Rookies, Chuckles & Rishi  

2013 Turkey Run :: Serb Fest - online
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