Monday, May 22, 2017

Ukrainian Culture Celebrated in New York's East Village

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Thousands Attend the 41st Annual Saint George Ukrainian Festival  

New York, NY – The annual Saint George Ukrainian Festival was held in the East Village's "Little Ukraine".  The event ran from May 19 through May 21 and holds the distinction of being the oldest and largest Ukrainian folk dance festival outside of Ukraine. 

The festival, which featured folk dancing and singing, routinely draws thousands down to the site every year and has been featured in books such as The Suburbanization of New York as an example of a city festival that "still reflects any sense of place". 

Tens of thousands of sought-after Ukrainian dumplings, known as 'varenyky', were prepared in advance by church volunteers. Other delicacies included cabbage rolls (holubtsi), beet soup (borsch), sausage (kobasa) and sauerkraut. 

"The importance of the annual Ukrainian Festival on Seventh Street is an affirmation of the Ukrainian community's role in this neighborhood, in this city, in this state and in this country. This vibrant display of culture, dance and food is also a testament to the work of St. George Ukrainian Catholic Church, St. George Academy and the role that the local community organizations and businesses can play when they come together," said Matthew Dubas, editor of The Ukrainian Weekly, which is distributed throughout Canada and the United States. 

"Most recently, the festival exhibits have informed New Yorkers about what is going on in Ukraine in the face of ongoing Russian aggression, and how Ukraine plays a vital role in combating the spread of the conflict to the rest of Europe," Dubas concluded.

The festival extended from East 7th Street, between 2nd and 3rd Avenues, bordered at its West end by Taras Shevchenko Place, a small street connecting East 6th and East 7th Streets. It is the only street in the United States officially named after Taras Shevchenko (1814-1861), the "National Bard of Ukraine".

Saint George Ukrainian Catholic Church, located at 30 East 7th Street, was founded in the East Village in 1905. The church has sponsored an annual festival since the very first one in 1976, then officially a co-celebration of the U.S. Bicentennial and 100 years of Ukrainian immigration to America. 

Photos by Gary Glennell Toms  

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