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Freedom Heart Ukraine

This year’s UFest enjoys record attendance

Jun 8, 2023 | News, Life, Community, Canada, Featured, Arts & Culture

View of the crowd t UFest on May 26. Photos: Stephan Bociurkiw

NP-UN Western Bureau

Over 60,000 people attended UFest held at Edmonton, Borden Park May 26-27, making this year’s event the best-attended yet.

“We are thrilled that UFest has become a popular event in Edmonton’s festival scene as we continue to share our Ukrainian culture with guests from across the country,” said Daria Luciw, Vice President of the Edmonton Ukrainian Festival.

Much of the increase was due to the heavy influx of displaced Ukrainians who have come to Canada.

“Many newcomers attended and even volunteered at the festival this year. We were happy they could experience Ukrainian culture as it has evolved in Canada. We are also pleased to have once again gathered donations which will be given to Ukrainian Canadian Social Services to support opportunities for newcomers to send children to summer camps,” added Luciw.

The area of the festival grounds was expanded and additional attractions such as rides on the “UFest Express Train”, were added. Festival organizers also introduced the “UFest Budmo Brew”, which was brewed exclusively for UFest by SYC Brewing Co. It was a big hit and quickly sold out.

Each year UFest welcomes a different Guest Culture. This year’s guest was Poland. Their Guest Culture Tent was presented by the Canadian Polish Historical Society who provided a vibrant and engaging showcase of Polish culture and heritage. Among the special guest performers were the Lowicz Polish Folklore Dance Ensemble from Edmonton.
As well, the Desna Ukrainian Dance Company came from Toronto.

Oleksandr Danyleiko, Consul General of Ukraine in Edmonton showcased his musical talents.

Other performers included:

From Edmonton: Alberta Ukrainian Dance Association, Cheremosh Ukrainian Dance Academy, Cheremosh Ukrainian Dance Company, Dunai Dancers, Edmonton School of Ukrainian Dance, Shumka School of Dance, St Basil’s Dance, St. Martin Ukrainian Dance Academy, St. Matthew Dance Academy, Studia Shumka, Ukrainian Male Chorus of Edmonton, Ukrainian Shumka Dancers, Vatra Adult Dancers, Veeteretz School of Ukrainian Dance, Verkhovyna Choir, Verkhovyna School of Ukrainian Dance, Veselka, Viter Ukrainian Dancers and Folk Choir, Vohon Ukrainian Dance Ensemble, Volya School of Ukrainian Dance, Volya Ukrainian Dance Ensemble’, Zabava u Koli, Eric Yaremko, Ruta, Steppe, Trembita, Don Klym and John Senetza, St. Nicholas Mandolin Ensemble, St. Martin Strings Society, George Paleniuk and Charlie Gargus, and Tsymbaly Club at St. Matthew School.

From other centres in Alberta: Parkland Ukrainian Dancers Society, Stony Plain; Peace River Muzyka Dancers, Peace River; Marango Pie, Pigeon Lake, and Polka Ramblers, Camrose.

Dancing groups

The Vendor Village marketplace showcased the best of Ukrainian culture and heritage, including genuine Ukrainian art, handmade crafts, traditional clothing, souvenirs and much more. Polish vendors were also on hand selling unique and authentic items. Located in the heart of the Vendor Village was Art in The Village. Talented Ukrainian and Polish artists showcased their unique and stunning works, including paintings, prints, pysankas, metalwork, textiles, and more.

The Community Pavilion provided a glimpse of a few of the active organizations in the Ukrainian community. Here attendees could learn about some of their good works or gather information about educational and cultural opportunities for children.

There also was a Heritage Pavilion where people could discover and celebrate the vibrant history and rich heritage of Ukraine.

Another feature was the Workshops and Demonstrations tent. With a variety of workshops to choose from, including vinok headbands, painting on glass, copper etching, Polish paper cutting and coin necklaces, there was something for everyone to enjoy.

Petting zoo

For the children there was a Kozak Kids Zone. The activities in this area were geared to spark their creativity, keep them physically active and teach them about Ukrainian culture. Most importantly, this area encourages fun.

The petting zoo was a popular attraction for visitors of all ages. It offered a hands-on and interactive experience with a variety of friendly animals such as goats, lambs, ducks, rabbits, guinea pigs, miniature Zebu calf, and a miniature horse.

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