Marco Levytsky NP-UN Western Bureau Chief.
This year’s Edmonton Heritage Days Festival, held at the Edmonton Exhibition Lands August 5-7, was “simply amazing”, says the head of the Ukrainian Pavilion’s organizing committee.
“We were all tired but extremely happy because my amazing team — our organizing committee together with the team of volunteers — well supported by the festival’s organizing committee and its board of directors, definitely took the experience provided by the Ukraine Pavilion to a new level, greatly appreciated by our guests,” Natalia Pociurko, President, Friends of the Ukrainian Heritage Pavilion Society, told New Pathway – Ukrainian News.
“All our shows, especially the dancers, were well attended. Our great location provided a lot of space for guests to attend all performances as well as purchase and enjoy food and visit the art and culture pavilion without fighting crowds. Our Art and Culture tent was a very popular stop for numerous visitors and all exhibits including the Modern Ukraine exhibit generated a lot of interest,” she added.
The Art and Culture exhibit featured 7,500 years of Ukrainian history, dating back to the Trypillian culture from 5,500 BC.
Among the visitors to the Ukraine Pavilion were several government officials — Alberta Premier Danielle Smith, who took a guided tour around the Art and Culture exhibit, tasted the varenyky, and spent some time chatting about Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees; Muhammad Yaseen, Alberta Minister of Immigration and Multiculturalism; and Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi.
Former Alberta Deputy Premier and current Opposition Deputy Leader Sarah Hoffman not only came for a visit, but also volunteered for the kitchen, cooking varenyky and serving borshch.
Pociurko says approximately. 4,500 plates of varenyky and over 500 bowls of borshch were served.
“Each day, we were close to running out but were well prepared and replenished the supply prior to reaching the critical level,” she noted.
The Ukrainian Pavilion was operated by close to 250 volunteers, the majority of which were displaced newcomers.
“Unbelievable support from the newcomers and our youth,” said Pociurko. “I am happy to share that a lot of volunteers kept coming back the next day even without having a shift assigned to them which provided a lot of flexibility with rotating kitchen volunteers as the kitchen was very hot! So many young people were helping every day with some starting with the setup on Thursday and finishing with the takedown on Tuesday. Many Ukrainians also visited the Pavilion to enjoy the shows and finish each day singing by the stage and dancing to our music near the stage and some on the stage,” she added.
On the last day the team finished the festival with a big dance party where the volunteers were joined by representatives and guests from other pavilions dancing kolomyikas and other great Ukrainian numbers.